It’s been some ride for Edinburgh’s finest. Following the end of a residency at King Tut’s in 2008, there was a feeling that an era had ended and the band’s best days were behind them. The six year gap between 2009’s decent-yet-unfocussed Post Electric Blues and their next album seemed to confirm this – yet clearly someone forgot to tell Idlewild.
2015’s Everything Ever Written was an effort to be proud of, and so, back from – well, if not the dead, then certainly from having to self-release an album a decade back – the band return with the exuberant, spiky and downright welcome Interview Music.
Leading off from their last “comeback” effort from four years ago, in that they have seemingly been emboldened by it to have attained complete confidence in their craftsmanship and knack for a propulsive tune, this begins with the dynamic drums and Flaming Lips-esque harmonising of Dream Variations, before There’s A Place For Everything vaults off in the direction of arpeggiated keyboards that almost coalesce seamlessly into the Simple Minds riffing of Interview Music – a track that seems like classic Idlewild, before Rod Jones’ seemingly tried-and-tested guitar chiming breaks down into pieces and turns it into something more like Blur. It’s dizzying to hear the finale switch into gear, and ballsy to have it as the title track. Bravo.
If the sound of a band enjoyably stretching themselves isn’t to your liking, then the more traditionally “indie” Idlewild is also here, with Miracles and You Wear It Second Hand somehow sounding like both designated crowdpleasers and tracks that have wandered in from Jarvis Cocker’s self-titled solo album. Neither of those descriptions are deployed pejoratively, by the way, it’s just that they don’t offer as many surprises as the aforementioned Interview Music, or Familiar To Ignore’s series of one-note (literally, and enjoyably) guitar solos.
The left field turns are summed up by closer Lake Martinez and the woozy conjurings of lines like “I feel fictional, going deeper into daydreams to understand it truthfully”. It’s great to hear them playing so freely and making music that doesn’t lean into their substantial back catalogue – there’ll be no Gallagher-esque retreading of old ground with new shoes here, thank you – but that still sounds, unmistakably, like the band we all know and love.
Interview Music is out now, via Empty Words.