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Idlewild - Warnings/Promises


Review: Jack Foley

CRITICS have been quick to dismiss Idlewild as Scotland's answer to REM, which is a far cry from their early days as head-banging indie-punk rockers.

Yet ever since the early brilliance of singles such as When I Argue I See Shapes, right through to the fairly recent American English, they have consistently shown signs of being something more than just a frenetic guitar band.

Certainly, The Remote Part displayed a much more mature side to the band, capable of writing epic songs and incorporating plenty of instruments, while hinting at the ambitious, sweeping style of, say, REM.

That promise is fully realised in Warnings/Promises, their latest long-player, which all but casts aside their clattering punk roots in favour of a more refined style.

As with a lot of Idlewild's material, it keeps getting better the more times you listen to it, as the musical diversity contained within each song becomes more apparent, and each track has chance to breathe.

The album gets off to a familiar start with the former single, Love Steals Us From Loneliness, which looks set to have become one of the band's biggest anthems. It is a mighty track that was quickly and easily embraced by the Idlewild die-hards.

From then on, the style becomes a little more mixed-up. Second track, Welcome Home, is a genuinely heartfelt ballad that builds cleverly towards its guitar solo, showcasing Roddy Womble’s distinct vocals at their most heartwarming.

The early fire of Little Discourage is evident in I Want A Warning, which features plenty of wailing guitars, and Womble's vocals at their angriest.

But such tracks are few and far between, preferring to take a more slow-building stance.

I Understand It is the type of track that begs comparisons with REM, particularly vocally, with Womble coming ridiculously close to resembling the style of Michael Stipe at several points.

Yet it shouldn't detract from an otherwise excellent track that provides a perfect showcase of the band's ability to deliver catchy choruses and feel-good melodies, wrapped up in lush guitar riffs.

The more expansive sound is further demonstrated in another of the album's highlights, El Capitan, which begins with a gentle piano sound, before unleashing a lively drum beat and more great guitars (some of which contain a country vibe).

Strings are employed to good effect on the shimmering The Space Between All Things (another highlight), while the powerful guitars of Blame It On Obvious Ways fade in and out well.

The epic, stadium-filler direction of certain tracks is best exemplified by the towering Goodnight, which begins and ends tenderly, but builds towards a mesmerising crescendo of sound.

It's a fitting finale to an excellent album that shows there is no boundary to Idlewild's growing ambition. And that's something which can only be embraced.

Track listing:
1. Love Steals Us From Loneliness
2. Welcome Home
3. I Want A Warning
4. I Understand It
5. As If I Hadn’t Slept
6. Too Long Awake
7. Not Just Sometimes But Always
8. The Space Between All Things
9. El Capitan
10. Blame It On Obvious Ways
11. Disconnected
12. Goodnight

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