IDLES Ultra Mono Partisan Records
“Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers,” bellows IDLES frontman Joe Talbot during the refrain of Grounds, a downright menacing highlight from their third album, Ultra Mono. In 2020, when a quick Twitter doom scroll is enough to make you want to light a Molotov cocktail, how are there not more bands like IDLES? Through the scuzzy power of Black Flag, the politics of Rage Against the Machine, the off-kilter ethos of The Fall and the fury of the Pixies at their most ferocious, they’ve concocted an explosive formula unlike anything currently being offered in the arena of rock music. Through gritted teeth, Ultra Mono’s message is clear: there’s more from where that came from.
Musically, fans of IDLES won’t be disappointed: the chainsaw guitars and herky-jerky pacing that made their much-acclaimed previous LP Joy As an Act of Resistance so arresting and incendiary are still front and centre. Tracks like Mr Motivator sound like a stampede of ominous drums and punishing basslines, and Model Village even mixes in an early aughts dance-punk flavour to rally the masses around their message of anti-capitalism and working-class solidarity.
One could accuse IDLES of sometimes being a bit, shall we say, on the nose, but given the absolute shitshow masculinity has become in a post-Trump, post-Brexit era, perhaps they should be lauded for meeting these topics head on, and with brute force. Because at the end of the day, music – no, the world – needs them.