Idlewild - Everything Ever Written
When Idlewild called it a day in 2009, there was no tearful wave goodbye or touching eulogy, just a sense of 'well done, you were great'. Their last album, Post Electric Blues, was a crowd funded success but did little to reverse a wider decline in public interest that began with 2005's folk-infused Warnings/Promises.
Fast forward to 2015 and you'll find Idlewild letting go and finding little discouragement in the clichéd fears that come with a reunion record. Everything Ever Written is the band's seventh album and it sounds like it – in a good way. Opener 'Collect Yourself' is a riff crunching beast that recalls the band at their most energetic, anthemic and lovable. A return to their to their mucky punk roots? Alas, Idlewild in 2015 are not the band you screamed along to in '98 and why should they be? They've grown, you've grown but that doesn't mean they can't still rock out once in a while. 'Come on Ghost' continues the fervent pace with rich production and a filmic structure. Speaking to frontman Roddy Woomble before Christmas, he claimed the track's new, extravagant sound was a result of having “a few thousand pounds and a lot of ideas”. It does, however, feel a little staggered; by the time that crazy brass tooting outro rolls around you'll have forgotten how it all started.
The folk format developed on Woomble's solo albums has certainly leant this record a more poetic, sombre edge. Still, the gorgeous FM melody on stand out ballad 'Every Little Means Trust' suits him in unexpected ways. His vocals strike with confidence alongside the sweep of harmonious chords and vocal echoes: “Every little must mean something more than enough / Every little there's less trust in love”. Sure, it's a little insipid at face value but listen with care and you'll find one of the sweetest ballads of the band's career.
What follows is a band batting between mid-tempo rockers and slow burning introspection. The second half of Everything Ever Written will likely hold up stronger in time, but it lacks the immediacy of the opening volleys. With that said, '(Use it) If You Can Use It' checks in at a near effortless seven minutes, with a swooning Jicks-era Malkmus wig out and one of Woomble's most endearing vocal performances to date (“It's a wreckage out there / But there's a heart beat behind every door.") “Suffer and go / Suffering the people for a u-u-u-utopia,” sings Woomble on the poignant piano led closer 'Utopia' and again, it's an ever growing confidence in his own songwriting that stands out.
For a band once thought all but lost, this is an endearing and smart record that suggests the start of a bright new chapter.