So, after a five-year hiatus (during which Roddy Woomble has metamorphosed into a fully fledged folkie), Idlewild are back with a new album, Everything Ever Written. Drowned In Sound's Matthew Slaughter has hailed it as "a genre-traversing, surprising, melodic, poetic, anthemic record with heart, smarts and soul [that] certainly lays to rest any ideas of a band lost to complacency or confusion". Fine words indeed, though his review hasn't convinced me it's worth an investment - not least because any album featuring a track that "could be best described as luxuriant, near-Yacht rock" is, in my book, a criminal offence. Other than 'Left Like Roses', the touchstone appears to be Wilco, a band I've never really warmed to despite quite enjoying the Jim O'Rourke-enhanced A Ghost Is Born.
While I found myself nodding off to tracks on Idlewild's last two albums, I'm also not one of those fans who yearns for a return to the days of Captain and Hope Is Important. The review has prompted me to dig out both 100 Broken Windows and The Remote Part, and on reflection it's with some certainty that I can declare the former to be my favourite Idlewild album - the sweet spot when "the Fugazi-fuelled fire of their youths" met the melodic songwriting chops and ragged anthemicism of early- to mid-period REM. As good as The Remote Part undoubtedly is, for me the balance has already tipped too far in favour of restraint and maturity.