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A Rock Sleeper Makes Guitars the Star

The Scottish band Idlewild pairs dark lyrics with brightly blustering, timeless rock.
The Scottish band Idlewild pairs dark lyrics with brightly blustering, timeless rock.

For a period of a few months in early 2000, the Scottish band Idlewild looked like a world-beater in waiting: A good-looking purveyor of wry, catchy rock anthems, the band made one of that year's best sleepers in 100 Broken Windows. In some alternate universe, songs like "Actually It's Darkness" (audio) were huge hits, but in the U.S., Idlewild remains a cult act at best.

Though subsequent albums have stripped some of the winning gleam from that career highlight, Make Another World functions as a return to form, pairing dark lyrics with brightly blustering, timeless rock arrangements. "In Competition for the Worst Time" opens the disc on the exact right note, declaring its presence with welcome walls of grinding guitars that serve as an ideal tone-setter.

Singer Roddy Woomble lets his vocals drift to the background more than longtime fans might expect — besides the titular phrase, it's hard to make out more than the occasional scrap of "bleeding in the afternoon" and "whoa-whoa-whoa" — but Idlewild makes the guitars the star of "In Competition for the Worst Time." They deserve the close-up.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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