On Idlewild's third record, The Remote Part
, plucky vocalist Roddy Woomble is the Muhammad Ali of Britpop, crooning like a butterfly and rasping like a punk-stung bee. Although such a dichotomy is nothing new for the Scottish quintet, who constructed literate homages to Hüsker Dü, the Smiths, and Ash on 2000's cult favorite 100 Broken Windows
balances these influences with an even more exquisite touch as well as universal accessibility. "(I Am) What I Am Not" and "Stay the Same" crinkle like lost pages from Bob Mould's songbook, while "You Held the World in Your Arms" swells with grandiose orchestral bombast not seen since Morrissey was dissing all things Parliamentary.
Brimming with confidence cultivated by nearly eight years of live shows and an exuberant rawness reminiscent of early R.E.M., Idlewild is well worth catching in an intimate setting, before the band's summer tour -- opening for Pearl Jam -- exposes it as more than a perennial underdog.