Warnings/Promises is the fourth full-length studio album by the Scottish rock band, Idlewild, released on 7 March 2005, on Parlophone. The album marks the only appearance of bassist Gavin Fox, following the departure of Bob Fairfoull in 2002, and is the first album to feature touring guitarist Allan Stewart as a permanent member. During the recording of the album, Roddy Woomble described the process as feeling "so different, in every way, than any of our other records," and cited that Idlewild felt like a "new band".[1]

Studio album by
Released7 March 2005
RecordedLos Angeles
Sweden ("I Understand It")
ProducerTony Hoffer
Dave Eringa ("I Understand It")
Idlewild chronology
The Remote Part
Make Another World
Singles from Warnings/Promises
  1. "Love Steals Us From Loneliness"
    Released: 21 February 2005
  2. "I Understand It"
    Released: 2 May 2005
  3. "El Capitan"
    Released: 11 July 2005
  4. "As if I Hadn't Slept"
    Released: Scheduled for 23 January 2006 but deleted after the band were dropped by Parlophone

The album is a departure from the sound of their earlier material, blending contemporary folk influences with melodic rock. Mike Diver, from Drowned in Sound, described the album as "the opinion-splitter in Idlewild's canon of work. It marked the final chapter in the group's relationship with Parlophone."[2] Guitarist Rod Jones, stated that the album is "more stripped back and direct" than previous albums, and that it has a sense of "frailty" to it, while drummer, Colin Newton, noted that the album is "not an immediate sounding record; in fact I can imagine it being quite difficult to get into at first. I think it fits together quite well, but there isn't anything that's instantly catchy like "When I Argue I See Shapes" or "You Held the World in Your Arms".[3] Lyrically, Woomble describes the album as sounding like "a series of public service announcements."[4] Woomble credited Jones with influencing the sound of the band's previous album, The Remote Part, but noted that Warnings/Promises "had more of my influence on it, bringing it into roots and folksy territories."[2]

The album entered the UK Album Chart at No. 9, and is currently certified as Silver in the UK, having sold over 60,000 copies.[5] It was performed in full on 20 December 2008, at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. The track 'Too Long Awake' features on the video game, Saints Row.

Background and Recording

Following a tour supporting Pearl Jam, and festival appearances in the UK, the band rented a house in the Scottish Highlands to begin writing the follow-up to The Remote Part. In an online diary entry, Roddy Woomble stated that the first four months of 2004 were:

spent in song writing frenzy, in various bedrooms, living rooms, and up in the frosty Highlands. Breaking up the chords and words with sporadic midnight rambles, wrapped up warm, drunk on wine, deep in dark woods. And playing table tennis in a cow shed. In a surreal twist the next three months were spent in Hollywood, California, turning these Highland folk songs into fully realised rockers.[6]

To record the album, the band flew out to Los Angeles, and worked with producer Tony Hoffer. According to drummer Colin Newton, the band had been:

taking our time recording the songs for the album and spent three months going backwards and forwards between studios in L.A., and a lot of the time we were too intent on having a good time rather than working hard, so eventually that’s why we had to go back out and re-record everything and we finally got it finished in October. Along the way as well, we’d been hearing that the record company had been having doubts about the songs on the album, so that final trip to L.A. seemed to be the re-awakening of us as a band.[3]

In another online diary, during the recording of the album, Woomble commented on the different environments:

We wrote these songs in a damp house overlooking Skye, surrounded by sheep, mud and the crazy Scottish sky, and listening to them driving through west Hollywood at midnight, looking out the window. It's like a different version of the same song.[7]

Prior to the recording sessions in Los Angeles, the band had begun recording in Sweden with producer Dave Eringa. Only one song from these sessions, "I Understand It", is included on the album.

On the DVD that accompanies Scottish Fiction - Best of 1997-2007, there is a section titled The Making of Warnings/Promises, which includes interviews with the band members and their thoughts on the album.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Drowned in Sound7/10[9]
The Guardian[11]
Pitchfork Media6.5/10[13]
Robert Christgau[15]
Rolling Stone[16]
Stylus MagazineC[17]

The album received mixed reviews, with a Metacritic score of 66, based on 20 reviews.[18] NME gave the album a positive review, writing that "where The Remote Part was their Green-esque lunge into the spotlight, Warnings/Promises is their full-blown Out of Time spectacular. But with less twangle, more teeth.".[19] On the other hand, Alternative Press claims that "Idlewild undeniably sound like a once-great band helplessly slipping into their confusing middle years."[18]

Fan reaction to the album was mixed, and the album remains hotly debated on forums.

In regards to the album's mixed reactions, Roddy Woomble believes that:

a lot of people that criticised that album were younger people, people who liked specific things in our past. The record actually sold well, and found a new fan base amongst older people. Basically our audience changed and opened up, and I think a lot of younger people, who followed the band for a while, didn’t want to go to a gig with their mother and dad, yet suddenly there were people of their mother and dad’s age at our gigs. I think the culture we live in is obsessed with things that are young and fresh. It’s like music has a sell-by date or something, which is absurd: everyone knows sell-by dates were only invented so people don’t get sued. I don’t pay much attention to critics, though – if you did you’d never get out of bed, because you’d be so worried about what people thought of you. I think people that criticise need to get out more and go for a walk. I mean, what’s the point? If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. I think the good thing about the band now is that we’ve got a body of work – you don’t have to like all of it, it’s not a requirement. If you can take something from one or two records, that’s something.[2]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Village Voice United States Pazz & Jop Albums of 2005[20] 2005 245

Track listing

  1. "Love Steals Us from Loneliness" – 3:12
  2. "Welcome Home" – 3:15
  3. "I Want a Warning" – 3:35
  4. "I Understand It" – 3:20
  5. "As if I Hadn't Slept" – 3:36
  6. "Too Long Awake" – 3:07
  7. "Not Just Sometimes but Always" – 3:33
  8. "The Space Between All Things" – 4:12
  9. "El Capitan" – 3:57
  10. "Blame It on Obvious Ways" – 3:24
  11. "Disconnected" – 3:51
  12. "Goodnight" – 8:06
    • "Too Long Awake (reprise)" (hidden track) This is a re-arranged acoustic version of the earlier track.


  • "Hold on to Your Breathe"
  • "Gone Too Long"
  • "Don't Let Me Change"
  • "The Work We Never Do"
  • "Pleasure and Pain" (Ben Harper)
  • "Winter Is Blue" (Vashti Bunyan)
  • "Love Steals Us from Loneliness" (Acoustic Version)
  • "El Capitan" (Acoustic Version)
  • "The Bronze Medal" (Acoustic Version)

Known demos/songs that remain unreleased

The following songs appear as interludes in the Scottish Fiction DVD:

  • "In Words We Walk On"
  • "We Live for Fate"
  • "Maybe I'm Saying This to Someone"
  • "I Misunderstood"
  • "(Unnamed Noisy Song)"
  • "Royal Glue"
  • "Someone, Somewhere"
  • "Logic Always Dictates" (possible demo to "Once in your Life" from Make Another World)


The following people contributed to Warnings/Promises:[21]


Additional musicians

  • Inara George – additional vocals ("Love Steals Us From Loneliness", "I Want a Warning", "Too Long Awake", "Goodnight")
  • Greg Leiszpedal steel guitar ("As If I Hadn't Slept", "Disconnected")
  • Paul Maroon – piano ("El Capitan")

Recording personnel


  • The Head of State – artwork
  • Jennifer Juniper Strattford – photography

Release dates


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