With the news this week that Idlewild are to play every single one of their albums in Glasgow this December, I dug out a piece I wrote about their seminal album, 100 Broken Windows. With the nights drawing in and Sheffield feeling colder than a monkey in the arctic, it feels like the right time to dust off some Scottish punk...

An Autumn Classic: 100 Broken Windows

By Tom Bage

Some things just seem to happen at this time of year. That fuzzy evening on the tiles as summer memories fade; old resolutions spiralling upwards in smoke with the lighting of forbidden cigarettes; those shorts and running shoes resigned to the back of the wardrobe; September is indeed a guilty month. Bad personal habits aside, this writer has another late autumn routine. Devoid of health risks, but demanding proper care and attention, one album has been calling me back for years – Idlewild’s 100 Broken Windows.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this is such an ideal autumnal record. The songs are certainly crisp; perhaps it’s the icy guitar lines which sulkily complement singer Roddy Woomble’s endearingly intellectual lyrics throughout. It could equally be that affecting melody is rife, but kept detached by the album’s sparse production, lending the work something Woomble once described as an ‘austere Scottishness.’ Even the artwork is positively chilly – the mournful photograph on the front cover screams art school melancholy – but Idlewild never retreat to self absorbed misery, preferring to wrap their frustration in REM flavoured spiky pop.

Opener ‘Little Discourage’ was a minor indie hit at the turn of the millennium and nearly 8 years later is still a live favourite. The guitars of Actually it’s Darkness calls to mind US post-hardcore heavyweights Fugazi (some of the album was produced in their native New York) but the rock solid core of the record is Idea Track; Idlewild’s raison d’etre summed up in three minutes and three albums later, still their finest moment. It’s desperate, widescreen stuff, which levels its surroundings like a monstrous art-punk Robocop, retaining barely enough human heart to temper the sheet metal in which it is wrapped.

It may be The Remote Part which brought Idlewild the bulk of their fame and commercial success, but it is 100 Broken Windows which is most fondly remembered by the band’s fans. Their yearning, tumble-down poetry and wide eyed earnestness might take a little more work to fully appreciate than another sneaky Marlboro and to the uninitiated may seem as daunting as a snowy jog through Glasgow, but that, my friends, is the price you pay for something truly special. This time of year just wouldn’t be the same without it.