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Idlewild 100 Broken Windows Review

Album. Released 2000.  

BBC Review

A firm favourite amongst the Idlewild faithful, and not afraid to get heavy.

Mike Diver 2010

While their sound would mature, comparisons to the likes of REM never far behind the release of albums following this 2000 effort, 100 Broken Windows remains a favourite amongst Idlewild fans first introduced to the Scottish (now) five-piece through 1998’s six-track Captain EP and their debut LP proper, Hope Is Important.

What preceded 100 Broken Windows was scrappy, fiery and precocious. Energy and enthusiasm bled freely from holes in the arrangements, the skeletal songs characterising Hope Is Important clanking and rattling like the echoes of their makers’ influences that they, ultimately, were. It sung of promise with throats hoarse and eyeballs shot, but did little do actually suggest that the band’s live appeal could cross over onto a recording. 100 Broken Windows did, and was the game-changer, an album that stamped Idlewild’s identity as a highly literate, immensely able outfit whose melodies had evolved into true earworms. And that it didn’t wholly compromise on heaviness is to its credit.

“You can’t keep waiting for progress,” sings frontman Roddy Woomble on one of this album’s many highlights, These Wooden Ideas. Yet lightning seems to have struck, as across 12 tracks Idlewild skilfully broadened their palette without completely distancing themselves from their bellicose past. Roseability and Idea Track both bounce with a youthful vigour, and would immediately become showstoppers at any Idlewild performance – though requests for the latter seemed too often to fall upon deaf ears, if this memory serves correct.

Bassist Bob Fairfoull drives this album’s most bombastic of offerings; his departure in 2002 coincided with a move away from the fairly generic, but fabulously enjoyable, punk-informed racket of tracks like Listen to What You’ve Got and Rusty. “You’re not original,” states Woomble on the latter, as if acknowledging the song’s supposed shortcoming. Between these boisterous efforts sits Actually It’s Darkness, this record’s second single. It features the kind of compositional shift, from shuffling verse to soar-away chorus – “Why can’t you be more cynical?” always sung back at the band at shows – which continues to prickle the skin.

Closer The Bronze Medal points the way to album three, The Remote Part, the band’s most acclaimed album and home to American English, a top 20 single that successfully introduced the band to a new audience. But to the likes of this, albeit biased writer, 100 Broken Windows is The One, both blissfully nostalgic and still crackling with combustive power.

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