Monday, July 24, 2006

Number 28: Idlewild

A Modern Way Of Letting Go (Parlophone CDR 6598)

Chart debut: 22 Feb 2003

Writers: Idlewild

So far these posts seem to be taking me about a month each, but I'm going to knock this one out pretty sharpish to suit the song. It was the fourth single from Idlewild's third "full-length" album, The Remote Part, but where the bulk of that set comes from the band's folky side, this track is a real throwback to the punkier sound of early chart entries like 'Everyone Says You're So Fragile'. Ironically, by the time this hit the shelves as a 45, bass player Bob Fairfoull had quit the band in protest at their move away from rock. Now, unlike a lot of people, I actually think the evolution of their sound was a good thing, and much prefer this album to the more one-dimesional thrash of their first releases. In fact, when I first heard the album the songs I liked best were the quiet ones, but there's a real energy here that's made it one of my all-time favourites for those headphones/air guitar moments (don't pretend you've never done it!).
Lyrically, it's not the band at their deepest but there's something charming about "Losing isn't learning to be lost, it's learning to know when you're lost," even if "You can only be yourself when you understand what you know" sounds like it belongs in the theme from Henry's Cat. What really makes this is a superb ensemble performance, with Roddy Woomble obviously a better and more confident singer than he was five years earlier but still capable of a good yell (eg: "The modern way of letting you... GO!!"). And in what's proving a bit of a recurrent theme on this blog, they get the ending right too, pummeling the riff until an abrupt end at 2:23. By far their most underrated track.

As it turned out, The Remote Part was easily (and I think deservedly) their most successful album. A new line up of the band, with Fairfoull replaced by Gavin Fox and keyboardist Allan Stewart, released the even less metallic Warnings/Promises album in 2005 to a fairly muted reaction, and their contract with EMI was not renewed. They remain a going concern, albeit with yet another bass player now (Gareth Russell, ex-Astrid) though Woomble's solo album seems likely to delay any further action.

Official website:
YouTube if you want to: The (slightly disappointing) video is not recommended for sufferers from motion sickness, who should probably try this TV performance with the later lineup instead.
Where to get it: The Remote Part is an excellent album, concise and well-balanced. But their career to date is summarised on Scottish Fiction, with or without bonus DVD.