After motoring uphill on an increasingly steeper slope of fame, expectation, and contractual obligation, Scotland’s Idlewild have finally ridden over the crest, thrown it in neutral, and can just coast now. While their 2005 release, Warnings/Promises, wasn’t as appreciated as their previous efforts, it was a climax of all sorts that afforded the band an opportunity to check themselves. Their Parlophone contract was up, so they could release their work on their own terms. The result is Make Another World, an album that is the same vehicle that goes as fast as it ever did, but coasts on momentum of the drive that got them there.
This time around, there was a conscious attempt to rely on old methods to assemble the album. Appropriately, the band went into the studio with producer Dave Eringa, who was an essential force behind 100 Broken Windows and The Remote Part. In doing so, they’ve recreated a nearly authentic mix of the fresh, speedy punk-pop and philosophic poignancy that made those albums so dynamic. But, perhaps in growing older and reshuffling priorities, they lost their grip on the captivating hooks that pulled them up the mountain. There’s a mature, cathartic tone to Make Another World – as if the band is happy just to be able to play the music again as it comes to them – without all of the external motivation weighing them down.
On Make Another World, Idlewild utilize the wide variety of parts that built their success. “If It Takes You Home” has the familiar thrash of the early days but ties down the wilder side of they would’ve done in the past. But there’s the pop quality of the discopunk “No Emotion” that endeared them to casual fans and the quick, grinding rock of “Everything (As It Moves)” that won the obsessive ones. “Once In Your Life”, by far the most down-tempo track on the album is still strong, with a rippling guitar solo and eloquent refrain. The basic elements of Idlewild’s middle-career ascension to semi-stardom are available, but are just not as proactive as they used to be.
While it’s an improvement of Warnings/Promises and a welcome refresher on the band’s biggest strengths, Make Another World isn’t quite as robust as some of the previous works. It’s good to see the band recharge themselves and step into a new phase assertively – that they can create a solid album within their new freedom – something that isn’t as easy as it sounds.