In the six years since Idlewild released Post Electric Blues, they’ve had a lengthy hiatus, put out a handful of solo projects, and ultimately realised that Idlewild was something worth holding on to. They’ve returned with a clear sense of purpose, and the results of Everything Ever Written can be breathtaking at times.
There are tweaks to the line-up, and a clearly evolved sound. The palette has been expanded, and the spectrum is truly exciting. Everything seems to fall into place behind Roddy Woomble’s bright, hopeful vocals. The sound may be new but it feels natural, like you’ve known it for years.
The album opens with its first two singles – an opening assault designed to quickly win over any doubters. ‘Collect Yourself’ launches with a wave of distortion but its groovy reggae-tinged beat may come as more of a surprise before the more customary anthemic rock chorus. ‘Come On Ghost’ fits more easily within Idlewild’s back catalogue, even if there is a hint of Queen in its main guitar line.
‘Do you ever get the feeling that I made important decisions far too late in life?’ Woomble sings on ‘So Many Things to Decide’ – a beautiful track which feels like it might have been recorded in a barn, with friends – a wonderful collective feeling. So many singers lose their accent when they sing, but Woomble’s vocals are wondrously Scottish. The inflections of his words mould the song into an all together prettier picture.
The instrumental second half of ‘(Use It) If You Can Use It’ stretches on a little too long and heralds a slight dip in the record. ‘Like A Clown’ feels like a B side – maybe it would have been if anyone still bothered with singles – and some of the confidence and bravado of the first half of the record is missing. It isn’t until the penultimate track ‘Left Like Roses’ that the swagger returns. Closer ‘Utopia’ then delicately fades away as if the album had all been a dream that leaves you wanting more.
After such a lengthy break, this is as good a return as anyone could have wished for. So many bands come back with nothing to say, only bills to pay. But Idlewild have returned, new members in tow, with a new vision. Everything Ever Written has a lot to say, but perhaps its biggest success is easing Idlewild back in as though they had never been away.