It seemed Idlewild were over when their hiatus was announced five years ago. It’s usually a worrying sign when a band makes that announcement and as the years pass by without any action, the end seems more likely than anything else. Idlewild have returned however, with Everything Ever Written, but sadly the former kings of Scottish REM like post punk indie romance come up slightly short.
Idlewild are a band who always seemed on the cusp of something. Hotly tipped from the off, they peaked with The Remote Part and Warnings/Promises, both of which feature some truly outstanding works like El Capitain, Live In A Hiding Place and so on. Both are also albums everyone should own. Bold enough to try a mix of sounds from a punkier take on indie, to pop, to involving Edwin Morgan, the band kept your interest throughout and their live shows were always thrilling. Everything Ever Written moves on from Idlelwild’s “old” sound and tries to blend a number of styles together, but in doing so, it comes across as confused. Opener Collect Yourself sounds almost live with loud, squalling guitars sounding more in your face than Idlewild have before. It’s a confident start and a good one. Come On Ghost follows, again having a live feel to it but it’s also on more familiar Idlewild territory with more than a hint of an Americana influence. So far so good.
Things take a turn on So Many Things To Decide which is a bit like a U2 cover band covering The Rolling Stones Wild Horses, the U2 theme continues on Nothing I Can Do About It where Roddy even sounds a bit like Bono. The song sounds like something U2 might have come up with had they bothered to add choruses to Songs Of Innocence. The country feel/Americana influence continues with Every Little Means and (Use It) If You Can Use It, both of which are ok despite the latter’s horrific title before the album’s mid-section slump reaches its nadir with the Stones’ b-side Like A Clown which is just not good at all.
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At this point, you’re wondering what’s happening. Where’s the punch that Idlewild always had? Where’s the energy? Thankfully, the pace picks up with On Another Planet, which goes back to the band’s post punk/indie roots and is a belter of a track. All Things Different follows and is good, albeit the jazzy trumpet that opens the track and haunts it throughout is unwelcome. Radium Girl is a track with such a cool title that you immediately expect a sprightly, three and a half minute pop punk song that will surely define the sound of this summer’s festivals.
Instead, it starts like a 60’s pop number ( a good thing by the way) before once again, inexplicably, turning into a U2 song. There’s a lovely chorus in there but that’s about it. The last two tracks, Left Like Roses and Utopia are both fairly non-descript and that’s where Everything Ever Written ends.
Overall, this album is confused and confusing and really doesn’t bear any resemblance to Idlewild of old. Progress and change is no bad thing in a band of course but they seem to have progressed to a mix of Americana and U2. If I wanted to hear either of those things, which I rarely do these days, I’d listen to them. If I want to listen to Idlewild, I’ll go to Warnings/Promises or The Remote Part as Everything Ever Written doesn’t live up to those standards.