Idlewild - Make A New World
After the lacklustre Warnings/Promises the indie-rock stalwarts are back on more firm footing with their fifth album Make A New World. Roddy Woomble’s solo folk effort seemingly working the more genteel and quieter aspects of his song writing out of his system - his bite is back. Many of their detractors point to everything going downhill since their storming debut Hope Is Important but I’ve always rated that as one of their poorer efforts - they’ve matured and honed their influences over time to create some of the most well crafted indie-rock available.
The album opens with, quite possibly, their best song in years. In Competition For The Worst Time crashes through your speakers, surprising and elating you - the realisation hits you that Idlewild are back. Whilst they’ve veered towards the R.E.M. radio-friendly end of indie-rock in recent times, things here are a bit more upbeat and aggressive, there’s more energy and drive behind the songs. The title tracks soaring guitars and anthemic chorus reach out beyond the mere confines of your speakers and wash over you, it feels as though the music is pouring out and enveloping you. If It Takes You Home taps into their punk background; the guitars thrash and wheel around and remind you that they don’t just deal in the easy going end of rock.
One of the real strengths behind Idlewild’s success and appeal is their strong song writing – the songs all mean something and touch some part of the listener whether it’s the head or their heart. Recent single No Emotion deals with current culture and it’s distancing from emotion and interpersonal contact. Future Works is a standard Idlewild ballad about love and loss all embellished with a faint brass section just lifting above the gentle guitar strums which gives Woomble ample space to deliver his lyrics with a voice that’s become one of the best in modern music. You And I Are Both Away flows through peaks and troughs, reaching epic highs of crashing guitars and hitting gentle lows of strummed acoustic guitars all revolving around that voice.
The album finishes with the epic Finished It Remains, it may only last four minutes but it just builds and builds into a wall of guitars, drums, vocals and feedback with a soaring guitar solo just to finish. Whilst we may have heard this all before from Idlewild, that doesn’t mean that we should ignore it - they’ve found a sound and method that works for them. Detractors will point to them not doing anything different and their constant move away from their punk roots, but they’re not that band anymore. They’ve found their niche and that’s to create indie-rock of the highest calibre.