Idlewild has consistently surpassed its emo contemporaries. On The Remote Part, the group crafts emotional, affecting, vital rock music. Humming with bar-band ferocity (and never self-pitying), Idlewild tops its exceptional 100 Broken Windows by breaking free of the influences that colored earlier albums. U2, R.E.M., the Smiths, the Cure -- echoes of these great and/or infamous outfits inspire the unique despondency of Roddy Woomble's vocals and the band's tight, guitar-bass-drum onslaught.

Idlewild varies the approach on The Remote Part, allowing for acoustic guitars and (on one track) a string section. These deceptively soft moments make rave-ups like "A Modern Way of Letting Go" even more visceral. This band wrings drama and pathos from elemental arrangements and a bone-dry sound. There's not a wasted second on "Tell Me Ten Words" or "Out of Routine" as Idlewild interlocks melody and propulsion.

Frankly, "emo" is too wimpy a word for what these guys have achieved, and "punk" is misleading. For more than half a year, Idlewild's American fans have either had to wait for The Remote Part's official U.S. release or pay steep import prices. Now that Capitol has finally issued it stateside, it would be deeply satisfying to watch Idlewild finally get the mainstream audience over here it deserves.



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