THE announcement this month that Idlewild were back in the studio recording a new album will have pleased those fans who tried to instigate a campaign last year to boycott the band members' side projects. More fool them. If Roddy Woomble's solo efforts in the hiatus following 2009's Post Electric Blues have embellished the folksier thread of the band's later albums, then Rod Jones's criminally underrated five-piece, The Birthday Suit, have recaptured the spirit and energy of Idlewild's earlier days.
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Note, however, that A Hollow Hole Of Riches - and its predecessors The Eleventh Hour and a Conversation Well Rehearsed - is not the sound of a musician marking time until he returns to the proper day job: this is melodic indie rock at its very best, packed with tunes and ever-stronger lyrics.
The big anthemic choruses that burst out of the speakers fit an Idlewild pattern, but elsewhere Jones has been experimenting with different musical styles, so that all Of This Everything and Third Time Lucky place their spiky riffs somewhere between mathrock and afrobeat, while the shimmering guitar, prominent drum patter and vocal phrasing of Someone Else's Wealth and Lost But Not Forgotten give The national a run for their money.