Far from being idle, or for that matter wild, and with his former band on a very long term sabbatical or extended hiatus, Rod Jones has decided to form his own band. The Birthday Suit is the Idlewild guitarist's new platform for showcasing the much loved honorary Scot's new material. After releasing his more 'delicate' solo album 'A Sentimental Education' back in 2010 Rod has been reawakened to his 'Noisier side' by sidelining all things acoustic and plugging back in his amp.
The Eleventh Hour is The Birthday Suit's debut album release through Sing It Alone Records. Whilst Idlewild fans may not find a near carbon copy of former glorious and lauded favourites they should still find much that will satisfy their musical tastes. The energy that Rod's live performances are renowned for is certainly evident within many of the tracks chosen here. The production is devoid of fuss and the recipe appears to favour a back to basics approach to both song writing and arrangement.
The first of the eleven tracks was the band's first single 'Do You Ever'. The three minute slice of Indie-Power-Pop splices razor guitar riffs with ones that are closer to emulating a string section. Rod's inquisitive prose skips along to a stirring beat and at times reminds you of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire'. A more breezy disposition is taken on the sing-a-long of 'Hope Me Home'. Here and, probably more so later, on 'A Nation' there is an unfortunate default towards the Bag-Pipe guitar sound first popularised by 80's rockers Big Country. 'On My Own', with its whirring and spiralling frantic bursts of energetic pace, shows just how adept Rod Jones is at penning an anthemic belter fit for any Top Gear driving compilation..(Personal preferences will determine your take on this quality).
'See It All' slackens off the pace and loses the tight focus displayed during the opening three tracks. Here and on the more reflective 'They Say I Love You' the band are found wanting. The cohesion breaks down somewhat and the songs suffer from mid-album mediocrity. The faintly Gaelic 'World Gone By' helps restore parity before the double headed joy of 'Are You Ok' and 'A Nation'. The former harmonic Travis meets R.E.M like track and latter rousing and rallying, building and breaking sermon highlight the bands strengths.
The album is closed out by the (TMTCH?) stomp of 'Don't Look Down', rather disappointing (predictable and lazy) album title track and finally 'Talking Over You', a welcome and airy stripped back rather sweet duet.
The Birthday Suit are not the new Idlewild, and nor do they purport to be such. However, on the evidence of their first release there is much to like, as well as a little less to dislike, about this new band and the promise of better still to come. Mr Jones is certainly enthused by his new project "Working with the group I've put together has been totally unique and wonderful. I can't wait to get back on the road with them. I'm immensely proud of what we've put together and genuinely believe it to be some of the best songs I've ever written." He believes it, now it's over to you!
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