“Make Another World”
4 out of 5 stars
Scottish rockers Idlewild have accomplished a lot in their 12-year lifespan and have covered a diverse range of sounds.
Back when they first put music to tape, you could describe their sound as a mixture of Brit-pop and punk rock, with the emphasis on the second half of that description. As the years passed, the pendulum swung toward the other direction, with the last album “Warnings/Promises” far outperforming Coldplay’s “X&Y.”
This latest offering and fifth overall provides a nice balance between these two sounds, much like the 2002 album “The Remote Part.” For Idlewild’s last album the guitars would best be described as “shimmering,” and they once again simmer with a fuzzed-out crunch.
However, where this differs from their earlier works is in that lead singer Roddy Woomble’s lyrics still remain as reflective as they were on “Warnings/Promises.”
The culmination results in a sound that manages to remain both edgy without turning away current fans. If you’re looking for a UK alternative to Coldplay, then this is it.
Key Tracks: “In Competition for the Worst Time,” “If It Takes You Home”
Fountains of Wayne
“Traffic & Weather”
3.5 of 5 stars
Let’s face it: most of you are only familiar with Fountains of Wayne (FOW) because of the 2003 hit single “Stacey’s Mom.” But as bassist and songwriter Adam Schlesinger told me in an interview, that’s not such a bad thing.
The band is just thankful to be able to record albums after all the label strife it endured in the early part of this decade.
Lost in all of this, however, is the fact that since its inception back in 1996, FOW has been arguably the best pure pop band in music. And this album is no different as the band continues to craft predominantly guitar-driven pop rock.
There are variations of this sound of course, with some notable examples including the disco-rock chorus of “Someone to Love” and the country leanings of “Fire in the Canyon.”
The thing that has probably set the band farthest apart from its peers is the witty tongue-in-cheek lyrics, as heard on “Yolanda Hayes” and “Revolving Dora.”
It’s not the music itself that makes the band stand out, nor is it the lyrics: It’s the fact that Chris Collingswood and Schlesinger have an uncanny knack of putting the right combination of the two together.
There is nothing here that will have the effect of “Stacey’s Mom,” but if you’re looking for another excellent pop record, well then this is as good a place as any to look.
Key Tracks: “Yolanda Hayes,” “Someone to Love,” “This Better Be Good”