Idlewild, The Remote Part

By Calvin Leitner

Relying heavily on a 2001 article in Spin magazine naming 2000’s 100 Broken Windows “one of the essential records of 2001 you missed,” Edinborough, Scotland’s Idlewild decided North America was ready for their fuzzy blend of Sonic Youth influenced punk and Brit pop sensibilities. Received very well with spots on Conan and Letterman, Idlewild’s future direction became clearer after a crucial meeting with new fan Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith guitarist and CBGB’s icon).

What resulted was The Remote Part, a dizzying, frantic whirlwind of guitars and poetic antidotes courtesy of lyricist/vocalist Roddy Womble and guitarist Rod Jones. This album is about “having a sense of identity and not understanding why,” and was recorded over two weeks in a remote highland valley on the northwest tip of Scotland. It shows a focused and unrelenting band nearing its artistic peak.

Opening tracks like the UK top-ten hit “You Held The World In Your Arms” and new single “A Modern Way Of Letting Go” are a relentless attack of buzz-saw guitars and turbulent orchestras that wonderfully match Womble’s unique emotional wails. Lines like “maybe you’re young without youth, or maybe you’re old without knowing anything is true; I think you’re young without youth” don’t seem wordy or as impossibly heavy as one might suspect.

But, ultimately, it’s anthems like “American English” and “Live In A Hiding Place” that hint at the key to Idlewild’s future success. Regardless of the noisy, artsy peak reached by closing track “In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction,” courtesy of a spoken word passage by Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, The Remote Part is a polished, professional, and practically flawless record.

This is a band looking for a stadium to play in and getting close to finding it. Opening for such heavy hitters as Coldplay on their sold-out UK tour, and U.S. rock heroes Pearl Jam, Idlewild have found themselves armed and ready for success.

The Remote Part essentially reveals a band that has, over the course of just three albums, shown remarkable growth and potential. With such consistency and unique blend of indie ethics and anthemic sensibilities, Idlewild seems posed to embark on a long and prosperous career.

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