ALBUM REVIEW // ‘Ultra Mono – IDLES

WORDS BY ANDREW BRASSINGTON

There must be something brewing in the water over in the UK. Recent years have seen rise to a massive crop of talented young artists bringing back the true sound of guitar rock by way of late 70’s post punk stylings. This scene is made up of bands like Shame, The Murder Capital and Fontaines D.C., but at the very top of this punk hierarchy though lies a band called IDLES.

Approaching their third LP ‘Ultra Mono’ it feels like the band have intended to create even more of a statement than on their previous albums. Raging opener ‘War’ is a battle cry for a misspent youth and previously released singles ‘Grounds’ and ‘Mr Motivator’ come across like a 1 – 2 kick in the teeth.

Lead vocalist Joe Talbot constantly commands your attention with easily quotable lyrics of substance, sometimes feeling like you’re stuck in the middle of a boxing match with him.

Three albums in, a lot of bands tend to stray away from the sound that made them famous in the first place, and experiment with different textures and moods. IDLES on the other hand choose to do very little different sonically. Within this though they’ve created a record filled with some of their best work that feels very immediate and sure of growth.

The album does make way for a few quieter moments such as the intro to ‘Kill Them With Kindness’, dropping you at Cinderella’s ball before pounding into another trademark IDLES stomper. ‘A Hymn’ also marks a mature transition in their sound to a song with more breathing room than usual, which comes in handy at the tail end of the album.

Reigns’ is also a late highlight, asking to be remixed for the dancefloor with its syncopated bass and pulsing shotgun drumbeat.

While the band haven’t hit our shores since January 2019, it’s clear next time they’ll be dominating much bigger venues, but with the same passionate audience. This album is accessible, but sophisticated. It’s loud yet emotional and heartfelt. It may not go down in history as their masterpiece, but it’s their Combat Rock.

Tracing the rise of IDLES is a bit like watching a band like The Clash or The Sex Pistols build up their legacy. Perhaps we are in another important era of punk music? Only time will tell.

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE AS PART OF THE MUSHROOM GROUP

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