Idlewild’s “100 Broken Windows” Turns Twenty Today

There’s a shortage of perfect indie-punk records in this world. Would be a pity to miss the 20th anniversary of Idlewild’s 100 Broken Windows.

(Thankfully I’m not alone in remembering this album, like I seemed to be with Goldfinger’s Hang-Ups (read from the bottom up))

I must have heard the band first through KDNE. 100 Broken Windows came out before I was even at the station, so my guess is the label may have been giving it a push in the run-up to releasing Idlewild’s next record (The Remote Part). I got comp tickets to The Remote Part tour through my connections as Music Director. This show also introduced me to the French Kicks; I remember both bands’ sets clearly.

All to say, I wasn’t quite in on the ground floor, but I made up for it in listening. Every note on 100 Broken Windows is as familiar as a favorite hoodie, and if CDs could be worn out my copy would be.

100 Broken Windows is a perfect indie punk record; it doesn’t waste a breath, it maintains momentum from start to finish, it’s stuffed with hooks, and it has a perspective.

This is expressed most clearly in Roddy Woomble’s use of repetition. Look at the lyrics to “Roseability.”

Roseability, there is no roseability
Roseability, there is no roseability

You’ve got off with too much now
You’re getting off with too much now
Stop looking through scrapbooks and photograph albums
Because I know
They don’t teach you what you don’t already know
You’ve always been, dissatisfied

Gertrude Stein said “that’s enough”
(I know that that’s not enough now)

Roseability, there is no roseability

You’ve got off with too much now…

Gertrude Stein said “that’s enough”
(I know that that’s not enough now)

Roseability, there is no roseability

You’ve got off with too much now…

Idlewild, “Roseability”

Across three verses there are only two lines (“Roseability…” and “Gertrude Stein…”). Both rhyme words with themselves, and follow the self-negating form [Thing] / [not Thing]. This is a recipe for boredom and cloying simplicity, but Roddy and the band make it work beautifully. They pull this trick off over and over across the record, and it still works.

For twenty years I’ve been happy any time I played this album, and I’m sure I will be for twenty more.

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