Ever seen a band post about current affairs on their socials, and then read comments where morons say something to the effect of “stick to music”? There’s a very good chance you have. IDLES are the type of band that this would occur to regularly. They’ve built a platform on their anti-establishment themes, lyrics, persona and general anger at those in power. And honestly, with the way the world is in 2020, who could blame them?
Returning with their third album in four years, on Ultra Mono, Idles are near to their thumping best, as they pound through twelve tracks of mostly relentless punk and overly obvious lyrics. Following in the steps of their acclaimed second album Joy as an Act of Resistance, an album of full-throttled punk, Ultra Mono is just as vitriolic and emphatic in its delivery. It’s also just as blunt with its commentary on politics and the absolute shitfight the last couple of years has been worldwide.
Opener “War” is a call to arms, thanks to its overly angry vocal delivery and onomatopoeic sounds prior to every verse line. Delivered in an almost-dare-I-say-it Rage Against The Machine rap style, “War” is a rewarding and immediate opening to Ultra Mono. Toned down by the melodic likes of “Grounds” and “A Hymn”, Idles show that even though they’ve built a really solid landing pad as a band of fearful punk, they do have an, albeit minor, tender side. It’s an appreciated change up from the band. The five minute “A Hymn” shows the vulnerable side to front man Joe Talbot, as he confesses to wanting to be loved, just as everybody else does.
The natural successor to the overall themes and messages of Joy as an Act of Resistance, “Kill Them With Kindness” is a chaotic and emphatic message for the masses, as Talbot once again oversimplifies his lyrics and message for the listeners. The tempo is increased throughout the chorus of “Model Village”, with the strains of Talbot draw a little inspiration from the upbeat sounds of City Calm Down‘s “Distraction/Losing Sleep”.
Continuing with their blunt social commentary and willingness to comment on blatant sexism, racism and toxic masculinity in society, the overt “Ne Touche Pas Moi” is an anthem for consent. Meanwhile “Carcinogenic” is a literal take down of radical nationalists who’ve lost connection with the masses and the bulk of society.
Closing out Ultra Mono is the utterly brilliant “Danke”. It’s all heavy riffs, angry drums, an intro that lasts the first half of the song and three and half minutes of a band that has the subtlety of a sledgehammer when getting their point across. In short, “Danke” is the epitome of Ultra Mono and what Idles do best.
While it does have a couple moments that aren’t as impactful as the rest (mainly “Mr. Motivator”), Ultra Mono is a refreshing reminder that constructive anger will always have a place in the world. Even from musicians.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ultra Mono is out Friday 25th September. Pre-order the album HERE.
Header Photo by Tom Ham.