NPR logo A Rock Sleeper Makes Guitars the Star

A Rock Sleeper Makes Guitars the Star

In Competition for the Worst Time

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "In Competition for the Worst Time"
  • Artist: Idlewild
  • CD: Make Another World
  • Genre: Rock

The Scottish band Idlewild pairs dark lyrics with brightly blustering, timeless rock. hide caption

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For a period of a few months in early 2000, the Scottish band Idlewild looked like a world-beater in waiting: A good-looking purveyor of wry, catchy rock anthems, the band made one of that year's best sleepers in 100 Broken Windows. In some alternate universe, songs like "Actually It's Darkness" (audio) were huge hits, but in the U.S., Idlewild remains a cult act at best.

Though subsequent albums have stripped some of the winning gleam from that career highlight, Make Another World functions as a return to form, pairing dark lyrics with brightly blustering, timeless rock arrangements. "In Competition for the Worst Time" opens the disc on the exact right note, declaring its presence with welcome walls of grinding guitars that serve as an ideal tone-setter.

Singer Roddy Woomble lets his vocals drift to the background more than longtime fans might expect — besides the titular phrase, it's hard to make out more than the occasional scrap of "bleeding in the afternoon" and "whoa-whoa-whoa" — but Idlewild makes the guitars the star of "In Competition for the Worst Time." They deserve the close-up.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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