ALMOST a quarter century since they formed in Edinburgh, Idlewild are about to drop one of the most vital records of their career.

Interview Music, their second album with new members Luciano Rossi and Andrew Mitchell, vindicates the decision of frontman Roddy Woomble, guitarist Rod Jones and drummer Colin Newton to return to making music together in 2014 after a four-year break.

Ambitious and diverse, Interview Music cannot be second-guessed. Here, sophisticated art-rock and funk sidle up to folk and punk in a record that bristles with creativity – no small achievement in a band of this tenure.

The album’s two singles so far, Dream Variations and Same Things Twice, illustrate its principal tension between a desire to experiment and to look back to the angrier, messier sounds of their early days.

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Speaking from Mull, where he has lived for the past 10 years, Woomble says he’s glad the band held off releasing the record in 2017, as was Idlewild’s initial plan.

Encouraged by the critical and popular acclaim earned by 2015 comeback album Everything Ever Written and an acoustic tour of the highlands and islands, the band started writing Interview Music back in the spring of 2016. At the end of their US tour that year, they decamped to a studio in Los Angeles to develop the work, but it wasn’t until November 2018 that it was completed at Post Electric Studio, the busy recording studio in Leith run by Jones and German mixer Kris Pohl.

There Dave Eringa, the master producer behind much of Idlewild’s output in the 2000s, helped the band finish the record.

“Dave reconnected with us at one of the shows we did for The Remote Part,” says Woomble, referring to gigs they played in 2017 marking the 15th anniversary of that landmark LP.

“Though the last time we worked with him was in 2008, he’s always been there for us. He has produced some of our most recognisable songs, like American English and You Held The World In Your Arms. He knows the band really well, how we work and how to get the best out of us.”

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ERINGA produced five of Interview Music’s 13 tracks and helped bring focus to a revitalised band with ideas to spare. While never inaccessible, the album shows the musicians at their most innovative, with tracks such as Mount Analogue featuring the funky falsetto of Mitchell – also known as impressive multi-instrumentalist and composer Andrew Wasylyk.

The title track itself is perhaps the most surprising, a mini art-pop epic with elements of jazz.

“Interview Music itself is a good example of what we were trying to do with the whole album,” says Woomble. “In the past we would have put different ideas into separate songs, but this time we mixed them more, and it takes the songs somewhere different. We were thinking unconventionally in terms of arrangements.

“There are a lot of talented musicians in the band – Rod, Colin, Luciano, Andrew – and there was an element of me thinking: ‘Let’s do something that’s more instrumental-based’. Everyone has got a section in that track, including me, with my rambling bit at the end.”

Woomble says many of the songs speak of dreams and the “unreal, magical” state evoked by the landscape of both the Scottish highlands and islands and California. A lyricist long inspired by modernist writers such as Gertrude Stein (name-checked on 2000 hit Roseability) and Scots such as George Mackay Brown and Norman McCaig, Woomble says he is currently working on a collection of poems.

“I’m not embarrassed to say that any more,” he says. “Whether it will come to anything, I don’t know. But the ideas won’t be wasted, they will be turned into poems or songs.”

Literary references have regularly featured in Idlewild songs and look back to Woomble’s time at the University of Edinburgh, where he first met Jones and Newton. They’re present here too, with slacker-punk track Bad Logic being based on a William Morris quote: “The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make.”

“That song was built around that idea, that you carry your past wherever you go,” says Woomble. “That can be a positive thing, it’s not necessarily a negative thing.”

Unlike previous albums, Woomble says he is finding himself returning to listen to Interview Music.

“Normally when I finish a record I don’t go back to it,” he says. “It feels like it doesn’t belong to me any more. But I’ve been going back to it more and more.

“I think it really works as an album and with repeated listens it does bring more and more stuff out of it. Maybe some Idlewild records don’t have that so much. All of us are quite proud of it but we’ve got no expectations. We just want people to listen to it.”

May 4, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow; May 5, Music Hall, Aberdeen. Tickets at:

Interview Music is released on April 6