Post Electric Blues is the sixth release from the Scottish five piece, who’ve been putting out records for coming on fifteen years now. It’s been an interesting ride, from the shouty post-punk beginnings to the anthemic The Remote Part, and a return to their angry roots in last album Make Another World.
Before Make Another World, the band were definitely heading down the folk route. But with Roddy Woomble now a permanent fixture on the folk scene in his own right, it almost seemed like Make Another World was emphasising the separateness of the front man’s two musical ventures, and Idlewild reclaiming their identity. So where have the gone next? Further down the wayward path of rock and roll? Back down the folk nature trail? Or somewhere in-between.
Well it seems Idlewild have backtracked by approximately two albums. The melodic rock sound on Post Electric Blues is most similar to The Remote Part and Warnings/Promises but it’s lacking those few tracks that will really stick in the way that ‘American English’, ‘You Held the World In Your Arms’ and ‘Love Steals Us From Loneliness’ did, making it ultimately fairly average.
If any of these tracks are to join the ranks of the Idlewild anthems, lead single ‘Readers and Writers’ is a strong contender. With the galloping pace of ‘You Held the World In Your Arms’, a riff carried by horns, snare drums, and a textbook quiet verse-loud-chorus, the second track of Post Electric Blues suggests a promising album.
‘Take Me Back To The Islands’ is far more akin to Roddy’s solo folk album, or the work he’s done with current folk heavyweights Kris Drever and John McCusker. Whilst it’s a beautiful, lilting folk melody that places you directly in the Scottish Highlands, the fiddle and acoustic guitar make it stick out like a sore thumb on a fully electric album like this. Whip it out of context though, and it’s an uplifting, soaring melody that makes you long for Roddy’s next foray into folk.
Album closer ‘Take Me Back In Time’ is another slower number that has some of the old softer Idlewild magic that made tracks like ‘El Capitan’ and ‘Live In A Hiding Place’.
Post Electric Blues seems like, instead of moving forward, Idlewild are simply trying to imitate their previous sound. This album could be a collection of reject songs that weren’t quite good enough for The Remote Part or Warnings/Promises, a kind of antithesis to a ‘best of’. They need to find themselves a direction, and quick.