Rod Jones' new band continues Idlewild's tradition of fuzzy guitar pop, but suffers a bit by comparison.
With Idlewild on hiatus and vocalist Roddy Woomble leaning folk-ward on his solo work, guitarist Rod Jones stakes a claim to his band's riff-heavy side by kicking his new project's debut off with a bang -- a big bang baby, oddly enough. Don't let the uncharacteristic Stone Temple Pilots pile-drive and strut of opener "Do You Ever?" throw you off. The Birthday Suit's next move is a slick segue into "Hope Me Home", a gem of a duet with band member Jacqueline Irvine that ranks among Jones' best work. From here, The Eleventh Hour plows along with a familiar intensity and melodic flavor, which should please most Idlewild fans, but also makes it suffer by comparison. Jones' known strengths as a writer and guitarist work against him as a lead vocalist, as his limitations are put into sharpest relief against those songs that most resemble his work with Idlewild; it's hard to not hear Woomble's iconic delivery doing them greater justice. Notably, the highlights are those songs on which Jones breaks from template, like the string-laden ballad "They Say I Love You", or those on which he shares the vocal spotlight with Irvine.