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Idlewild - Warnings/Promises
(Capitol Records)
1 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 1, 2005

Review by Andy Argyrakis

Idlewild's one of those many bands who've always been way more popular overseas (mostly in and around its hometown of Edinburgh) than it has been in the United States. The Brit-pop/rockers first came close to fame with the single "Queen of the Troubled Teens" in 1997 and truly made a splash (even a moderate one in America) with 2001's "Little Discourage." Two years later the group strove for even greater heights of exposure and scored the coveted opening slot for Pearl Jam's stadium tour. Although playing in front of so many people upped album sales, it failed to truly catapult Idlewild to fame and never broke them out of the U.S. club scene upon several return trips to town.
One would hope that Warnings/Promises would be packed with the immediacy and intensity needed to make this fairly faceless band a household phenomena, though that's unfortunately not the case. Rather in an effort that appears to be more accessible, the group's watered down its sound away from the ethereal and more towards the bland wave of the current British invasion. Instead of reaching for the greatness of relative newcomers like the Doves or the already established Travis, Idlewild reduces itself to the average state of Keane (minus most of the pianos) or Oasis on a really bad day. A case in point comes on the sterile alternative rock sounds throughout "I Want a Warning" and "As If I Hadn't Slept." "Welcome Home" takes an even wimpier acoustic guitar driven direction, while the much peppier "Love Steals Us From Loneliness" suffers from incredibly contrived harmonies.
The record is replete with additional examples of manufacturing and sanitization, such as the bubble gum pop of "El Capitan" and the drowsy "Disconnected." "The Space Between All Things" is the closest Idlewild ever gets to recapturing the magic of "Little Discourage," but even this ranks very low in the risk-taking department. The incredibly lengthy closer "Goodnight" is particularly dull and further displays just how much the group has softened and dumbed down its sound. Unless the follow-up to Warnings/Promises can break this pattern, Idlewild's chances of reaching star status on this side of the sea are zero to none, while the rest of the world is also best turning elsewhere.

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