Hope is Important was a promising full-length, almost worthy of its punk tag had it not been so influenced by literate American college rock. But where on the first album, Idlewild sounded immediate and somewhat desperate, on 100 Broken Windows the band is urgent but laid back, and confident enough to toss out their tales. Some people may quip that some songs sound similar, but a little consistent quality never hurt anyone.
Idlewild seem more comfortable in their own skins, wearing their influences proudly. On songs such as "Listen to What You've Got" and "These Wooden Ideas," lead singer Roddy Woomble holds his last syllables in a vibrato and softly intones choruses in a way that is pure Michael Stipe. But the band puts out searing licks and jittery gaunt riffs on "Idea Track," "Actually It's Dark" and "Rusty" that echo new wave, emo giants Jawbreaker and even post-punks Wire. Namedropping Gertrude Stein and post-modernism betrays Idlewild as sensitive enough to coordinate their cardigans with their Doc Martens.
But maybe Idlewild are punk, if punk is defined as doing your own thing and improving on the past.