IDLES third anticipated new EP “Ultra Mono” released on September 25, and is already a strong contender for one of the best rock albums to come out in 2020.
In such a time of deep uncertainty and paranoia, post-punk might in fact be the perfect genre to vent your annoyance with politics or anger at all the skepticism. IDLES newest album brings a ton of rage-fuelled noise. However, even amongst all the racket, it manages to convey some killer messages. The album takes their trademark sounds and makes them even richer. It also adds notes of hip-hop drumbeats on tracks such as “Grounds”. The tracks’ lyrics blend in with the sharp and hard-hitting blasts of chaos and makes for possibly the best IDLES album yet.
For those unfamiliar with the band, IDLES are a loud, anti-everything rage-filled *punk* band consisting of Joe Talbot (vocals), Mark Bowen (guitar), Lee Kiernan (guitar), Adam Devonshire (bass), and Jon Beavis (drums). Except, they don’t want you to call them a punk band. Vocalist Joe Talbot denounces the labels and doesn’t typically regard his band as punk. Despite this, they are a heavy punk band; most people would agree on that point.
Much like the artwork on the cover suggests, this album is one that takes no time to get going and pummels you with its brash punk sounds throughout. The album is indeed refreshingly loud – a welcome, much-needed break from the wave of soft indie pop-rock that plagues the alternative scene. Front-man Joe Talbot describes the second track as the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jackhammer and a smile, and that could sort of summarising the whole album; it is like a release of any pent up anger and lets you revel in the rage inside of you. So here is a review of the first half of the album, and if it captures your interest then go and give it a listen!
Instant. Loud. Chaotic. All of these words sum up War, and they fit in perfectly with the song. It kicks off and doesn’t stop for the whole 3:09, with everything being blissfully heavy all the way throughout. Talbot violently blurts out vocals during instrumental breaks, which adds to the sense of chaos. The chorus sees Talbot shouting “THIS IS WAR” amongst the brutal background noise. It is almost what you would expect to hear if you were in an actual battle. Beavis’s drumming on this track is one of the highlights, and you can only begin to imagine the number of sticks he went through to achieve the blasting, in your face sound.
The first choppy guitar riffs create an alarming atmosphere- simultaneously, the track feels like it’s going to degrade into chaos. Talbot drops some great lines in this track, like the recurring “I am I” in the chorus. This gives us the idea that Talbot is unlike others, and then there is my favourite line: “nothing has ever been mended.”
Starts off with the “I am I” mantra chanted by Talbot, and it has the pummelling guitar sound that echoes through the track. The track tells us to: “seize the day and drive the pricks away”. To illustrate, it almost acts as a call to action and pushes IDLES undying anti-classism narrative.
The title of this song successfully embodies all the lyrics. Especially when it is set against the thumping guitar and heavy drums Talbot half sings, half speaks about anxiety from being dumped to again how the government has sent the country into despair. It gets very chaotic in a sort of mental-breakdown type of way at the end. The whole band seems to explode and degrade into a manic state and Talbot repeats “anxiety” throughout.
Kill them with kindness
It has a completely surprising and beautiful piano intro, which in fact would have made for a nice half-way interlude on the album. It jumps into a rhythmic almost marching track that matches the drums, guitar, bass, and vocals into the same pattern. Finally, there was a great guitar sound on the chorus.
This is one of my favourite tracks as it describes my hometown in a humorously dry fashion. It’s a generally upbeat track as well and it has a fast tempo perfect for head-banging. The lyrics are sure to resonate with anyone who is fed up with life in their own “model village”.
The new album Ultra Mono is subsequently a very strong third release from IDLES. Its one to definitely listen to more than once to truly appreciate the brash punk lyricism. The album will be even better to hear live if and when that can happen again in the near future. I would expect an extremely lively atmosphere from the crowd when IDLES are blaring out their new tracks.