Idlewild, ‘The Remote Part’ (Capitol)
There are British bands, and then there are American British bands: artists like Morrissey and Joy Division, who’ve remained popular among U.S. misfits years after their own countrymen wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one of their T-shirts. With The Remote Part’s aptly titled “American English,” Scotland’s Idlewild bid for the undying affection of said misfits. “The good songs weren’t written for you / They’ll never be about you,” singer Roddy Woomble tells some poor high-schooler, his voice dripping both empathy and distaste while his bandmates make like Joshua Tree-era U2 behind him. It’s the type of song that’ll wear the previous button on your CD player to a nub; it’s a prom theme for people who’d rather die than attend the prom. It’s that good. Which makes many of The Remote Part’s other ten songs so frustrating. Idlewild are compelling when they put Woomble’s sad-sack lyrics front and center, but on aggressively average rockers like “You Held the World in Your Arms” and “Century After Century,” the band’s turgid squall swamps his words. “Live in a Hiding Place,” on the other hand, is built around a radio-ready acoustic-guitar verse, a gigantic chorus, and sensitive-guy lyrics for which Saves the Day would give the left sides of their man-wombs. “I’m safe in a hiding place,” Woomble warbles. “It’s the only way I feel safe.”A few more songs like this and he’ll be safe on notebook covers between Canada and Mexico in perpetuity.