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Music Review: Idlewild – Post Electric Blues

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Far removed from its early days of prime R.E.M. and Pavement-like melodicism mixed with loud, Nirvana and Fugazi-inspired rock, Scotland’s Idlewild is a band in transition.

For most of its 15 years, it was on a record label—Parlophone/EMI for a majority of them—and released five albums, including its 2000 breakout (second full-length) release, 100 Broken Windows, which SPIN called the “number one album you didn’t hear” that year (and which is being re-issued this week).

In 2007, after releasing fifth album Make Another World on Sequel/Sanctuary, the quintet went ahead without a label and decided to try something different in having fans pre-order the next album so they can have the sufficient funds to record it.

After raising a substantial amount of funds and giving its thousands of loyal fans who ordered it some web-exclusive access to the recording sessions, Idlewild released its sixth album last year, entitled Post Electric Blues, first to its fans and later through the UK independent Cooking Vinyl label. Last month, it finally became available stateside and in digital form through Nice Music Group.

If 2007’s Make Another World was more or less a return to the straight ahead rock of Idlewild’s early releases (and mid-career highlight The Remote Part from 2002), then this new release takes the edge off considerably and resembles its softer 2005 album Warnings/Promises, with a little more of a celebratory sound. This is exemplified by the xylophones and horns on catchy pop rock single “Readers & Writers” and hammond organ, piano and violins on the slightly heavier pop rock of opening cut “Younger Than America.”

Singer Roddy Woomble might not mix bursts of (youthful) yelling with his singing as he did 10 years ago, but his tenor of a voice hasn’t aged a bit it seems over the years. And the band is more confident in its songwriting than ever.

From the angular, distorted electric guitar riffs of the title track and bonus track “No Wiser” to the open air, spacey and percussion-aided folk pop rock of “Take Me Back In Time,” Idlewild is again taking its sound to a new level. It may not please older fans of its more angrier material, but with one well written song after another, Idlewild fans can’t go wrong with the bulk of Post Electric Blues.

For more info on Idlewild, check out their official website.

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About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.