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Idlewild: Everything Ever Written

Cherished Scottish alt.rockers return from exile.

Absent for six years, Idlewild have returned with a new bassist (their fifth) and a much bigger sound that’s utterly at odds with their indie past and singer Roddy Woomble’s recent role as a beard-chewing folk monk.

They planted the saltire first but it’s hard not to think of Biffy Clyro while listening to the opening track Collect Yourself, which couples a similar combination of precision-tooled riffs, psycho babble lyrics and guitars that sound like bagpipes.

Fortunately, elsewhere the sound is more ambitious and less formulaic. Come On Ghost is an atmospheric epic reminiscent of Automatic For The People-era REM, the ridiculously upbeat Nothing I Can Do swirls between rock stomp and esoteric folk, and the mighty wig-out that closes (Use It) If You Can Use It is reminiscent of peak-period Wilco.

It’s unusual to hear British alternative bands sound as self-assured as Idlewild do here and they pull it off without posturing, snark or pretension. And while the album lacks the killer punch of a big hit single, it’s full of charm and depth, making it a rare treat indeed./o:p