Idlewild

Warnings/Promises
(EMI)

These Scots seem destined to be the U.K.'s odd men out, a fate that's tragic but fitting. Unlike conquering heroes Coldplay, this quintet wears a disgruntled sense of defeat even in its most defiant moments, such as on 2000's melodic, punkish 100 Broken Windows.Since Windows' failure to break the band in the States, Idlewild has lurched clumsily between pop sheen and noisy abandon, musicians unwilling to decide if they're indie rockers or radio-ready balladeers. They remain unresolved on the sporadically amazing Warnings/Promises. Vocalist Roddy Woomble can rip through a corker like "I Want a Warning," then lament a fallen compatriot on "Not Just Sometimes but Always." But inconsistency and derivativeness slow the band's momentum. "El Capitan" echoes early-'90s R.E.M., while several others aim for an alt-country tunefulness that feels tame in comparison to their nervier early work. It's hard to love Idlewild when you can't even pin down exactly who they are anymore.

 
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