After a shaky start, Idlewild quickly became one of the most consistently enjoyable bands to come out of Scotland, dabbling in shouty post-hardcore, arena rock and pastoral folk along the way. ‘Post Electric Blues’ signals a change; you only have to hear the glorious, stomping horn chorus on ‘Readers and Writers’ to see this. None of their albums have the learning curve that this album has: I thought it was commercialised fluffy crap the first time I heard it but the more I listened it the more substantial it became. This is the sound of a band thoroughly enjoying their self-reliance (the album was partly financed by fans pre-ordering the album while it was still being made). In a way though, I sort of miss the tension. Even the folkier stuff, beforehand, it had a sense of urgency about it, something that ‘Post Electric Blues’ conspicuously lacks and suffers from. The songs are largely what matters though and for the most part, ‘PEB’ delivers well – but not that well. The aforemnetioned ‘Readers and Writers’ is great; you can see it going down an absolute storm on Jools Holland. The title track is its rockiest moment, ending in a gorgeous spiralling of guitar melodies while ‘Take Me Back To The Islands’ drops rock altogether and is pretty much pure folk which the band are equally adept at. It’s not a record without problems though; the mawkish ‘The Night Will Bring You Back To Life’ has a real communal band spirit behind it, but is essentially pretty wet. There are a handful of other weak or just plain dull moments like these that drag the album down, making it their worst album in ten years, but it’s really not bad.
Even if you don’t enjoy this record, the band are clearly loving it. There are few bands that radiate as much pleasure as this one do when they’re playing on ‘Post Electric Blues’. As an album itself it’s pretty good, but compared to previous efforts like ‘Warnings/Promises’ or ‘The Remote Part’ it trips up a little. There are pretty much only a small handful of songs that have the potential to be fan favourites.
Listen to this: on holiday.
Key track: Post Electric Blues