Sound — 9
For a band that started off as a pretty run of the mill 90's hardcore band Idlewild does a good job of hiding their roots on this 2003 release, 'The Remote Part'. Being the third album by the scottish rockers was clearly significant for them as this record is a fantastic example of a band upping their game and this is illustrated perfectly with track 1, the orchestral anthem 'You Held The World In Your Arms' with string arrangements that feed off of the distorted guitar lines to bowl over the listener and knock so many out of touch indie superstars straight off their perches. Everything about TRP screams classic, and in an equally loud voice it screams 'Radio, play me on a radio' which, depending on who you are is either a good thing or a bad thing. The albums at it's peak on tracks such as 'Century After Century' and the symphonic gem that is 'American English', with the tender and the 'RNR' aspect of any band showing through on these tracks, I don't exaggerate when I say every song on this record would have made a great single and therein lies the problem for some listeners, it's not angular or edgy enough for some and the mostly '3 'n a bit' song lengths will do little to dispel the impression that your listening to a very family friendly, non controversial album. The good news is if your taste is eclectic enough then you will overlook this slight in about 5 minutes, and enjoy this album for what it is, that being one of the most catchy, well put together and interesting indie albums to come out of a very stale and carbonated scene in over a decade.
Lyrics — 9
Gone are the immature, slightly school boyish lyrics seen on '100 Broken Windows' and in are the introspective lyrics on nature, who we are and the inevitable question of love. As a listener it becomes clear very early on that Roddy Woomble (I know I know) sings from the heart, and I found the university-esque student observations on the world as a whole endearing as opposed to false. Lines such as 'When I know that this won't survive much longer Unless we alter what we have But then again survival is not why we should Stay the same' showing a vocalist who has matured since the 'Captain' days. There are times however when that familiar face reddening occurs when an otherwise fantastic song (Live In A Hiding Place) is marred by awkward lyrics about being afraid of interaction and women, what was meant to come across as sensitive instead runs counterpoint to the aforementioned maturity which is a real shame because it is a good song. When ole Roddy gets it right though, it's quite simply amazing stuff, it's impossible to review this album without mentioning 'American English' at least twice, that song is a prime example of lyrics, vox and instrumentation coming together into a song that really takes you places, when he states: 'Maybe you're young without youth Or maybe you're old without knowing anything true, I think you're young without youth', the listener feels that Woomble is talking directly to you, highlighting that classic knack of being able to say things we're all thinking, things we all relate to, which gives this album a constantly relevant feel to it lyrically.
Overall Impression — 8
Yes it is pretty mainstream stuff, and yes the line between R.E.M and Idlewild gets pretty damn thin on some tracks but if you can take off your 'radio=sellout' shirts for 50 minutes and 58 seconds and immerse yourself into what is an incredibly rewarding and moving piece of art (I don't care what you say, having a little known poet called Edwin Morgan crack out his attack on nuclear development and lost childhood over album closer 'In Remote Part' in a crisp Scottish accent is art, hang it up in a gallery) then you will not be disappointed. I tend to play this to anyone who claims indie has no passion or soul, the entire thing is inspired and just as fresh as the day of release 5 years ago. Depending on your music taste however, some of the slow(ish) tempo alt rock ballads mid record may start to get on your nerves, but there's always an absolute cracker just around the corner waiting to drag you back into this soaring sonic masterpiece, that is if you can overlook the 'mainstream' appeal. Top stuff.