Idlewild - Interview Music - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Idlewild - Interview Music

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2019-04-05
Idlewild - Interview Music
Idlewild - Interview Music

This is a great Scottish novel of a record.

It is, to quote the lyrics, “like the classic mix of poetry into rock ‘n’ roll.”

But, as was once said about the first Peter Gabriel album, Expect the unexpected.

Once upon a time, “God said, ‘Let there be light.’” And then sometime later there was college rock, music that courted tradition, wasn’t afraid to think and shed lyrics that sustained the moment’s (sometimes mumbled) literary interest. R.E.M. gave brilliant music before they gave up the ghost. The Tragically Hip sadly ended with Gord Downie’s recent death. But thankfully, Scotland’s Idlewild is still carving very vital grooves into yet another great record.

But first, the sublime: the title tune “Interview Music” is live wire stuff where guitars simply flip the universe into rock ‘n’ roll anti-matter, with an (almost Who’s “Baba O’ Riley”) electronic pulse, and then there’s an intense blood infusion with wonderous noise of new guy Luciano Rossi’s jazzy piano, grinding guitars, a dense throb of a bass, and Roddy Woomble’s  urgent vocals, all of which contribute to the rock music touch of a sonic impressionistic paint brush. To quote the lyrics of the song (again), “gravity explodes.” It’s a brilliant piece of modern rock music.

The same is true for “I Almost Didn’t Notice” with its spooky keyboard intro, the pulsing tune, more weird keyboard sounds, a gentle piano, a sympathetic guitar, Roddy’s always great vocals, a quiet moment or two, and then the warm flood of a guitar/keyboard duet that simply sips from the best coffee on the planet.

In some online interview, Roddy said, “The band is re-energized: it is a new version of the band.”

That’s an understatement.

By the way, Rod Jones’s guitar work throughout the record is majestically tough.

Seriously, I’m a big fan, but “Mount Analogue” is not only brilliant, but horns inject new life into the sound; and not only that, the keyboards ponder the universe, while the guitar strikes with flashing flares of multi-colored lightning. And there’s a Robert Front “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” recitation. Honest: I would not have recognized this as an Idlewild song. And, as said, I’m a big fan.

And that’s a pretty cool thing.

Did I mention that the single “Dream Variations” is a very decent and very infectious song? Years ago, great bands who made great albums also wrote wonderful radio-friendly tunes. “Dream” is a déjà vu moment back to those days. And “You Wear It Second Hand” isn’t far behind, with background vocals that plead pop purity, and a sound that echoes (the great) Deacon Blue’s Scottish soul of Raintown. The same is true for the up-tempo “Forever New” (with its fairly obvious lyrics) and “Bad Logic” which is punchy and tough. “All These Words” is big and joyous. 

 It’s just an idea, but all the tunes simply exude new-found energy.   

Gone are the 100 Broken Windows days of guitar rock, although “Same Things Twice” does echo those garage days. And Roddy rips his vocal cords a bit. “Miracles” is also guitar heavy and teaches a college course in rock music. The folky past is pretty much gone, too. “You Wear It Second Hand” is slow and melodic with a really nice guitar solo. It’s as close as the record gets to the Scottish folk sound of Roddy’s (brilliant) solo record My Secret is My Silence. And, truthfully, there’s nothing like the folk-fused rock greatness of “Once in Your Life” from Make Another World, which played to the greatness of Wishbone Ash, Fairport Convention, or The Wolf People.

I am eternally thankful for Peter Green’s Then Play On (from the greatest version of Fleetwood Mac) song and lyric that simply states, Oh Well. Idlewild has been there and they’ve done that. I loved all those songs. But, with this album, they are, indeed, playing on.

Now, there’s a continuous theme of dreams throughout the album. “Familiar to Ignore” speaks to this concinnity. And the band wrings the wash out of the tune, from its piano beginning to the rapturous and (almost soulful) urgent song proper which grooves with great questions and great guitars (but not necessarily in that order) as it sprints with vibrant passion to some sort of universal truth. The final song, “Lake Martinez,” is, again, piano framed, melodic, quite beautiful, and a universe away from the expected Idlewild sound.

Well, this isn’t your father’s Idlewild. But that’s all right because this is a wondrous collection of pop tunes, honest guitar rock, sublime vocals, keyboards deluxe sounds, and songs about dreams—all from the very heart of a pretty great Scottish rock ‘n roll novel.

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