Despite their early angular and dissonant sound developing into the sort of epic, R.E.M. inspired rock that should have been right in my wheelhouse, Idlewild seemed to pass me by. Over the last couple of years though, I have found myself listening to quite a lot of singer Roddy Woomble’s solo work, with Before the Ruin (the album he recorded with John McCusker and Kris Drever) being a particular favourite.
The Everyday Sun EP, is on the face of it, a bit of a departure from his last melody laden and confident but also straightforward album, the excellent The Deluder.
Written alongside frequent collaborator and Idlewild bandmate Andrew Mitchell and recorded in the latter’s Dundee studio, it marks a departure from Woomble’s traditional working methods. Eschewing guitar for the most part, the instrumentation is instead made up of samples and synths.
The stand out track for me is the lush Straight to Blame which finds almost villainous piano bass mingling with a simple synth melody and swooning backing vocals. It makes the ideal backing for Woomble’s quirky spoken word lyrics. Roddy’s always been a strong lyricist but on this album lines like “into the interior I go, with my repertoire of desire” elevate him to a sort of Leonard Cohen loucheness.
Elsewhere, such as the title track, I was initially less convinced by the spoken word elements. The first verse’s delivery seems a little bit stiff but things seem to warm up as the song progresses, helped on its way by a cracking chorus.
Secret for the Last Time is the only guitar based track, starting with a simple strumming pattern, being added to by beguiling synth sounds. One seems to suggest Nashville steel, another sounds like a harpsichord mated with a ping pong match. There is a real playfulness to the instrumentation and the textures that rewards repeat listening. In that way it reminds of one of my favourite Neil Young songs, Will to Love, although melodically it sounds nothing like it.
The surreally ambient One Minute Out of the World with it’s crunch drum loops, strangely relaxing synth strings and slow paced spoken delivery is another highlight. The EP closes with an Eno-esque collaboration with cellist and composer Oliver Coates. It’s a 17 minute, dubby soundscape, featuring real strings melding with aural balm and you can almost feel your blood pressure lowering as you listen. It feels like just what I need in our current anxiety heightening environment.
Photo courtesy of Euan Robertson
Everyday Sun is out today, click here for more details