Scottish indie rockers Idlewild return with their eighth album – Everything Ever Written. Since their last album, frontman Roddy Woomble released his second and third solo albums which disappointed (his first was superb) so expectations were low for Everything Ever Written. Instead they have delivered an excellent album which mixes the best of Woomble’s solo folk work with Idlewild’s familiar rock.
Collect Yourself is a good rocky opener and is followed by single release Come on Ghost. The single was enjoyable, and it was good to hear Woomble’s distinctive voice back once again on an Idlewild song. But it sounds poorer when heard in the context of the album; it lurches along at an uneasy pace and is easily surpassed by other tracks on the album as a single choice.
The standout track, and obvious single choice, is Nothing I Can Do About It. This is Idlewild doing ‘big music’ and doing it brilliantly. Big guitars, galloping drums, some Elbow-esque strings and a sprinkling of piano all add up to a huge sound, but the female backing vocals are what really elevate the song, in the choruses and the wonderful “ooh ah, ah, ah’s” in the outro.
The second highlight is (Use It) If You Can Use It. This is one of a couple of tracks where Woomble’s voice has a much more laid back quality than usual, but still manages to retain his distinctive tone. The song has shades of The Charlatans’ North Country Boy, which is a good thing, and it has an epic playout, an almost live jam affair, with funky bass, soulful keys, piano, horns, squealing guitar, and maybe even the kitchen sink in there somewhere.
If you’re still looking for the Idlewild of old, look no further than On Another Plant, the rockiest track from the collection which burns out beautifully.
Lyrically the album is more mature than before, no doubt down to the band nearing middle age. There are songs of regret and bitterness, beside songs about accepting and even embracing old age. Some of the more obvious examples include “You know I worn out my ambitions, I soaked them in wine”, ” In my dreams I am always young”, “Do you ever get the feeling that I made important decisions far too late in life” and the simple but effective chorus “There’s nothing that I can do about it”.
I don’t ‘get’ all the lyrics though, and I wish I could figure out Radium Girl, because it’s a great song which adds to a strong finish to the album, which includes the atmospheric piano and vocal number Utopia; the perfect ending to a highly enjoyable experience.