Idlewild potential American hit

Brendan McCarthy

A recent resurgence of British music in America has prompted an increased awareness of up-and-coming Britpop bands. Idlewild in particular is generating such a buzz with its latest release “The Remote Part.” Formed in Glasgow, Scotland (the same city that produced Travis), Idlewild is trying to break through in the U.S. with this, its third album.

This album, released March 25, has been on the shelf in Europe for months, coinciding with Idlewild’s support on Coldplay’s autumn European tour. The band is currently headlining its own tour of the US; it was at the Theater of the Living Arts on March 7. Idlewild plans to continue entertaining American audiences while opening for Pearl Jam this summer.

“The Remote Part” combines the band’s British musical identity with a sound that is distinctly American. Lead singer Roddy Woomble’s voice is low and monotone, which brings out the American influence in his music. Overall, Idlewild sounds more similar to an American pop-rock band rather than its fellow countrymen, Travis.

If for nothing else, buy this album for its first track, “You Held the World in Your Arms.” It is a strong, upbeat song that is really meant to open up an album. Driven by the catchy electric guitars of Rod Jones and Allan Stewart, this song captures the energy of a classic Britpop anthem.

“American English” is another standout track. As suggested by the title, this song strays from the Britpop sound, focusing around Woomble’s monotone lyrics. The chorus reminds us to “Keep singing the song about myself, not some invisible world,” which suggests a refreshing sense of humility on the band’s part.

The album includes two fast, hard-rocking power pop songs, “What I Am Not, (I Am)” and “Stay the Same.” These tracks have a very similar sound to the album’s opening song.

“Tell Me Ten Words” starts slowly, based around an acoustic guitar. This is one of the best songs on the album. Steadily, the rhythm picks up, culminating with the chorus, “tell me 10 words that you’d use to describe the world.” The background vocals are reminiscent of REM, a comparison that has been made often in describing Idlewild.

But perhaps the best part of the album is the final three piano chords on the title track, “In Remote Part / Scottish Fiction.” The band rocks out over the voice of Edwin Morgan, Glasgow’s poet laureate. The piano chords bring about closure to the album, but also leave the listener wanting to hear more.

Despite the several standout songs, the overall sound of the band leaves something to be desired. The songs are very cumbersome. There are simply too many words jammed into each song that it disrupts the flow of the album. If Woomble were to leave out a syllable or two on every line, this album could be much better.

So will Idlewild be the next big thing to come out of Britain? This remains to be seen. However, if the Americanized sound of this album is any indication, the band surely has a chance. This album will not be the best album of the year, but it certainly has the potential to be a best seller.