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May 2021
Album review

IDLES - Ultra Mono

This is a band who no longer need to prove themselves.
Label: Partisan
Released: 25th September 2020
Rating: ★★★★
IDLES - Ultra Mono
Published: 12:00 pm, September 25, 2020Words: Jasleen Dhindsa.

After the success of their second album 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance', IDLES were thrust into the limelight as certified punk rock heroes. That record was one that truly cemented who the band were and what they were about. Their third effort 'Ultra Mono', sees them as truly worthy of their victory.

There's an immediacy to 'Ultra Mono' that hasn't been felt before on an IDLES record, perhaps down to the fact much of the songwriting was done directly in the recording booth; the tracks feel so instinctual, so primal and pure, while still remaining intelligent and attentive.

Their no-nonsense guttural punk with a bitter bite endures ('Mr Motivator' feeling like the optimistic sibling of 'Well Done'), however, the sonic palette has been expanded like never before - this is IDLES as more than just a punk band. 'Grounds' blares monolithic alarms that encompass a discern of the unknown, while 'Kill Them With Kindness' opens with a smooth jazz piano before vocalist Joe Talbot starts barking ferociously like a dog, capturing both the batshit and the beautiful. 'Reigns' is blistering and gut-wrenching, retaining the most ferocious energy on the whole record, searing with cutting krautrock guitars.

The lyrical grit remains unmitigated too - manic and campy Britpop attitude on 'Model Village' is the band at their most commercial, satirically addressing the reductive hive-mind of suburban life with tik-toking angular guitars, and 'Ne Touche Pas Moi' is an upbeat confrontation on consent and bodily autonomy.

On 'Ultra Mono' IDLES push the boundaries of what has been expected from them with rightly-earned brazen confidence that has resulted in their best work to date. This is a band who no longer need to prove themselves.


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