Album Review: Idlewild – Interview Music

“…thoroughly thought-provoking lyrically. Musically, it fits right into the band’s back catalogue but still sounds fresh…”

Interview Music‘s opening track, Dream Variations, starts out with suitably dreamy ringing guitars and surf pop bass chased with a jaunty keyboard fill and buzzing guitar. The song masquerades as lo-fi dreamy pop until Roddy Woomble’s unmistakable vocals and meandering lyrics identify it as an Idlewild song. The warm soundscape is redolent of the L.A. backdrop to the album’s recording. Things turn hazy towards the end as Woomble croons “dreams/why do they always have to be so cruel?” over melodic harmonies.

The pop vibe is clearly no anomaly as There’s A Place For Everything bursts in with even more pronounced harmonies that punctuate Woomble’s musings. Again the lyrics are weaved with dream allusions and Idlewildian statements like “existence isn’t always everything.”

Colourful album cover for Idlewild's Interview Music

The title track, Interview Music, is vibrant and warm. Woomble’s voice is lush as he questions everything like usual; he’s exploring familiar topics of perception, history, and experiences. Discordant piano and buzzing guitars see us through.

“I don’t know if I know how I can prove time to you/it’s as if time was something you can disprove” takes us back to classic Idlewild in tone, but feels entirely new too. All These Words is a joy right from the start that lingers well after it ends with a hard stop, ambient sounds, and a little ringing piano to transition into the You Wear It Secondhand.

Same Things is deliciously discordant, with a touch of the yelping fire we first heard in Captain and Hope Is Important over twenty years ago.

Woomble takes to the purer singing that we hear more in his solo work for I Almost Didn’t Notice. “This luminous emptiness/this feeling of home/it’s perfect for a restless soul/like the classic mix of poetry into rock and roll” neatly describe decades of band and solo output.

Miracles feel much more like a full band piece, both instrumentally and with harmonies.

Like the ever-popular song In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction, Mount Analogue is peppered with samples of poetic speech. We’re left with things to ponder, like “if it’s the happiest place on earth, it only exists because you let it turn into something real.” After ruminations on the third person, Woomble explores allegory. The band’s time in America makes itself known: “season my dog, season my chill with a growing sense of inevitability.”

There’s more comfort with a more local sense of place: “Sunday evening walking over Waterloo bridge and you’re hiding your brown eyes from the wind.” There’s a sense of romance and hope in the gentle sentiments: “you can’t escape the feeling of love, it’s invisible…I always thought that love can be Forever New

Bad Logic is a return to yelling about history in a way fully familiar to Idlewild fans: “the past is not dead/it’s just living with us…it’s just trying to reach us.” The sound effects and vocals descend into the echo of a banshee screaming for attention.

Familiar To Ignore lulls is into a deep concept: “no amount of sleep can prepare you for your dreams.” Woomble then throws out a perfect description of seemingly confusing, inexorable, disjointed passage of time (especially in Scotland): “spring does not lead to the summer/it’s spring then it’s winter again.” Just as we’re getting used to the pondering, the pace picks up.

That final rock flourish marks a contrast with the lapping water sounds that precede Lake Martinez. It closes out the album with a beautiful existential ballad: “you pick up on the lonely loneliness of the people all around you but you don’t know what they’re really thinking/no, you will never understand.”

Idlewild’s Interview Music is thoroughly thought-provoking lyrically. Musically, it fits right into the band’s back catalogue but still sounds fresh. Excellent work.

Interview Music is out now. Head to Townsend Music’s online store for a choice of signed records, CDs, and merchandise.