posted on October 21, 2009 19:00
A review of the album 'Post Electric Blues' by Idlewild
Review Snapshot: One could be forgiven for thinking that this latest offering portrays Idlewild growing old gracefully, but realistically this is the sound of a band who are trying to reinvent themselves. It doesn’t come close to the indie rock genius of the “The Remote Part” and the happy-go-lucky “Make Another World”, or the intrigue of the confused “Warnings/Promises”, but rather depends on several different influences to produce a fresh sound. Does it work? Yes, but only just.
The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10
Full Review: As the album opens with “Younger Than America”, you instantly notice this is truly & recognisably Idlewild, a vicariously riffed tune, and one that will once again accuse them of being, albeit in a good way, influenced by REM circa the Document era. Add to that, an effective backing vocal by our own Heidi Talbot (who aided and abetted Roddy Woomble’s 2006 solo country-ish effort “Secret Of My Silence” to magnificent effect, more on that later). More ...
More of the same on “City Hall”, classic Idlewild. Baring in mind this is their 6th album, it still works in so far as the song exudes their undying zest for what they do. “Dreams of Nothing” echoes sentiments of “Century After Century” from the “The Remote Part”, picking on what made them underground greats while avoiding overdependence on it.
Nevertheless, the album is not without its pitfalls, “Readers & Writers” is chart-popped up to an ultimately ineffective extent with oversold bombast on its chorus; it’s only the album’s second track and in early listens, you worry that Idlewild may be trying to become commercial - which just isn’t them. The same could be said of the late-on “All Over the Town”. It would sound great live but forces little effect elsewhere. Another poppy effect on “Circles in Stars” features a distorted doubled up vocal that asks "why, why, why?" Woomble’s vocals have always been charismatic enough without having to resort to this sort of thing.
Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of this album is the alt-country influences evident from Woomble’s solo effort that are breaking & entering their way through here – it doesn’t work on “(The Night Will) Bring You Back to Life”; it’s lyrically weak and the music doesn't sounds like anything like the Idlewild we’ve come to know and love. It improves on the album’s outro though as “Take Me Back in Time” features jangly guitar and a hum-drum backing vocal that possibly betrays the album as a whole but nonetheless remains a pleasing ending.
While the album’s blessing is that “Take Me Back To The Islands” is undoubtedly one of the best tracks on offer, the fact that it sounds like it was hand-picked from “Secret Of My Silence” is also a distant curse - you can’t help but wonder if these contrasting influences are pulling the sound of this band and its lead singer in opposite directions.
All in all, there’s enough here to satisfy dedicated fans and a lot of experimentation and credit to them for that; after all, bands who don’t reinvent themselves inevitably fade into the background or fade away altogether (just ask any Strokes or Garbage fan).
Definitely Idlewild’s weakest offering since the Remote Part, but a satisfying listen at the end of the day.