Make Another World

This is the sixth album from Idlewild, if we’re counting their debut mini-LP Captain, and it marks a partial retreat to the noisier sonic terrain they covered on earlier records.

This is the sixth album from Idlewild, if we’re counting their debut mini-LP Captain, and it marks a partial retreat to the noisier sonic terrain they covered on earlier records.

A positive development, to these ears; Roddy and co.’s makeover as purveyors of epic, vaguely Celtic rock ballads was never a particularly convincing one, though it did result in career-best sales on 2002’s The Remote Part. The group were a far more enticing prospect in their precocious, REM-as-played-by-Sonic Youth days (two parts Youth, to one part Stipe), and it’s about time they got back to making something of a racket.

Take note: the return is partial, not complete, and it’s not always entirely convincing anyway. Even in their prime, the ‘Wild had a tendency to fill their albums up with a less-than-healthy filler quotient (their rep was built as a live band more than a studio one, let’s remember) and that trend certainly continues here.

Most of this record’s pleasingly raucous moments are crammed into its opening half. Indeed, the first five tracks would easily slot onto 2000’s 100 Broken Windows, though perhaps not the two albums prior to that – nothing here could be described as “a flight of stairs, falling down a flight of stairs”, as their early material, famously, once was.

Opener ‘In Competiton For The Worst Time’ is Idlewild’s best song for some time, absolutely fizzing with bleary-eyed melody, the vocals dropped pleasingly low in the mix, giving the track a welcome lack of clarity. This standard is not quite matched over the nine tracks that follow, but some come close. ‘Everything (As It Moves)’ is another devilishly sweet thrash, while ‘If It Takes You Home’ is wonderfully dark and angular, bookish indie-punk at its very best.

The momentum is immediately lost during the record’s second half, though; ‘Future Works’ and ‘You And I Are Both Away’ are empty, windswept rock ballads, a two-track summation of everything that has been boring in Idlewild’s recent history.

The record’s early promise is never quite recovered after that – a shame, but perhaps it’s telling that we’re still talking about promise when it comes to Idlewild. Such inconsistency is forgivable on an overreaching debut, less so on a sixth album just 35 minutes in length.


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