Opening track ‘The Sun Never Sets Around Here’ is disarmingly familiar; the lyric, “now it’s back to work as if I never left" apt for the ease in which they dispense with such timeless sounds. The rush of ‘Summertime In My Heart’ replete with joyous 'whoo-ooh’s’ continues the record’s upbeat start. The delightfully countrified guitar line that runs through ‘Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone’ is one of the album’s many little joys.
There is an expanse here that has come with age and experience; ‘The Corner Of Highdown And Montefiore’ morphs from a folksy beginning into a grand aching ballad full of yearning guitar solos. You couldn’t imagine them doing this twelve years ago but now it feels just right. Equally as effective is the bouncy ebullient theatricality of ‘Mr Mitchell’, a quaint little character study that is perhaps the only song this year to name check the Dundee-Brighton train line.
In amongst the numerous slices of upbeat guitar and piano based pop there are a few moments of interesting subversion. ‘Welcome To The Weirdness’ is suitably oblique and highlights the White brothers' ability to subvert their own melodic tendencies into something a bit more oblique. However, even this song blossoms into a soaring climax.
As the gentle piano ballad ‘Never Again’ plays out it fills your heart with joy. ‘Idiots’ is the wonderful sound of The Electric Soft Parade belatedly coming of age.
‘Idiots’ initially invites a description – winsome, sparkling, Beatles-y – that sets alarm bells ringing, but the album thrives when the brothers White play to their strengths. These include restrained power pop, as on unfuckwithable opener ‘The Sun Never Sets Around Here’, and woozy slow-burn epics like ‘The Corner Of Highdown And Montefiore’. Their impeccable impression of ‘Summerteeth’-era Wilco, best exhibited by ‘Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone’, is also a total treat. Sadly there’s a deal-breaking second half to this album, exemplified by a regrettable harmony overload on the cloyingly twee meltdown ‘Mr Mitchell’, a song so drippy it’s as unlistenable as a million malfunctioning taps. When the energy levels fall off entirely on the maudlin piano-powered closer ‘Never Again’, ‘Idiots’’ early signs of promise seem a pleasant but distant memory.