Idlewild : The Remote Part

It's Indie's Revenge

Scottish friction, Scottish fiction. Two years on since ‘100 Broken Windows’ sank Indieland under tidal waves of riotous apathy, Idlewild‘s fourth album sticks one up the cynics who expected another muddy Attack Of The Drones. ‘The Remote Part’ is a bold, bright, broken and bitter beast that sees the spanking new Top Ten-shagging Idlewild burst out of their student-sheep’s clothing and rip the throat out of Coldplay. It’s Indie’s Revenge, it’s every ounce of Idlewild‘s potential fulfilled at once and it’s quite good in the same way that Jade from ‘Big Brother’ is an insy-winsy bit thick.

The widespread REM comparisons thrust on Idlewild of late go beyond the cosmetic. Sure there’s enough mandolins on ‘Tell Me Ten Words’ to make POD lose their religion and ‘Century After Century’ is so REM it practically assaults a stewardess with a Yop. But it’s the giddy spirit of ‘Document’ that Idlewild really mirror here; the point where a charmingly ramshackle alterna-rock band brush off a layer of grit and set the controls for the hearts of the cash tills.

“Everything’s changed since yesterday” – sung by Roddy Woomble from underneath a scrum of symphony orchestras having a fight on ‘You Held The World In Your Arms’ – is ‘The Remote Part”s fanfare and summary. The chest-beating Roddy of ‘Actually It’s Darkness’ has shrivelled into insecurity – he’s all identity crises (‘(I Am) What I Am Not’; ‘I Never Wanted’) and being terrified of girls (the Credible Crowded House of ‘Live In A Hiding Place’). His band, on the other hand, have grown savage new teeth.

‘(I Am) What I Am Not’ and ‘Out Of Routine’ barrel tunefully along with the sparkle-eyed violence of Casey Chaos left alone in a razor blade factory while the blast-off chorus to ‘Stay The Same’ is best listened to while base-jumping off Niagra Falls strapped to a barrel of Semtex. And then – of course – there’s ‘American English’, where Idlewild turn into waistcoat’n’mullet era U2 and start using Ayers Rock as a bongo. Awesome.

‘The Remote Part’ – half righteous fury, half sensational soppiness – closes with Scot poet Edwin Morgan reciting a specially composed work ‘Scottish Fiction’, driving the album not onto every Album Of The Year list but damn near to being yer actual ‘art’. But while Oasis are pitching for their podium in the Natural History Museum, they’re clearing space for ‘The Remote Part’ in the Tate Modern.

Mark Beaumont