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Idlewild - Scottish Fiction: Best Of 1997-2007

Idlewild, The Best of

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

WITH a tracklisting chosen by the band themselves, Scottish Fiction: The Best of 1997-2007 offers a rousing reminder of why Idlewild continue to be one of Scotland’s greatest contemporary bands.

Ever since Roddy Woomble, Colin Newton and Rod Jones first met at Edinburgh University in the mid 90’s and put their student loans together to release Idlewild’s debut 7” single Queen Of The Troubled Teens in 1997, they’ve been churning out the hits in exemplary fashion.

At times raw, ragged and blisteringly powerful, at others epic in scope and favourably compared to the thoughtfulness of REM, the band has consistently managed to refine its sound and grow in confidence with each new album release.

2005’s Warnings/Promises remains, arguably, their greatest achievement but this year’s Make Another World marked a glorious return to the rockier sound reminiscent of their earlier releases, while they wouldn’t be where they are today without the likes of early efforts such as 2002’s Remote Part or, earlier still, their breakthrough smash Hope Is Important in 1998.

The standouts on this 17-track “best of” include the epic American English, with its melancholy opening guitar loop and skyscraping chorus (“so sing a song about myself, keep singing a song about myself”) and When I Argue I See Shapes, which serves as a nice contrast thanks to its joyful simplicity.

You Held The World In Your Arms is an excellent opening track that really encapsulates the signature Idlewild sound (a fine balance between power and passion), while the early piano chords of El Capitan give way into a thrilling masterpiece of crashing drums, “stand up, stand up” chanting and vibrant guitar riffs.

For out and out rock that’s destined to get the mosh pit heaving every time, listen to A Modern Way Of Letting Go, a piledriver of a record, or the hook-laden Little Discourage that kicks off with the memorable opening line, “I found a mountain on my own”.

While, in contrast, try savouring the slow-building majesty of In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction (a shimmering effort in its own right), or the brilliantly layered I Understand It, a song that gives rise to another fantastically rousing, sing-along chorus (“I understand it, but I don’t show it, so I don’t think it, maybe we’ll be there”).

Fabulous, too, is the vibrant As If I Hadn’t Slept and the fragile, by their standards, Live In A Hiding Place.

But really, it’s churlish to pretend there’s a record not worth savouring. This is an excellent collection of songs that’s terrific to own on one album. Long live Idlewild and may the next 10 years bear just as juicy a harvest!

*Editor’s note: The CD also contains a “digital insert” that allows fans to enter the CD into their computer and download two extra songs (the first two rare Idlewild singles Queen of the Troubled Teens and Chandelier).

And the CD release comes packaged with a 3-hour DVD featuring a live concert filmed this year at the Aberdeen Music Hall, all the Idlewild videos with audio commentary from Roddy, PLUS over an hour of unseen documentary footage filmed over the last 12 years (much of it cut to rare songs and unreleased demos).

Download picks: When I Argue I See Shapes, You Held The World In Your Arms, El Capitan, American English, Love Steals Us From Loneliness, Little Discourage, As If I Hadn’t Slept, I Understand It, Live In A Hiding Place, In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction, A Modern Way Of Letting Go

Track listing:

  1. You Held The World In Your Arms
  2. No Emotion
  3. Roseability
  4. When I Argue I See Shapes
  5. Love Steals Us From Loneliness
  6. American English
  7. These Wooden Ideas
  8. El Capitan
  9. A Modern Way Of Letting Go
  10. Let Me Sleep (Next To The Mirror)
  11. I’m A Message
  12. In Remote Part / Scottish Fiction
  13. I Understand It
  14. Little Discourage
  15. As If I Hadn’t Slept
  16. Live In A Hiding Place
  17. Make Another World

  1. I love Idlewild – they’ve written some fabulous songs (not all of which are on here, sadly – heck knows how “Make Another World” made the cut ahead of any of the other tracks on that album). So, I won’t begrudge the 5/5, despite the odd tracklisting quibble here and there. But if this is 5/5, with no new material, how is Oceansize 2/5?! Riddle me that, folks! Seriously, one day people will look back at all the simplistic tosh that people are listening to and realise what they missed out on by failing to “get” the best band this country has produced in a very long time.

    GP    Oct 4    #