A Call To Arms: IDLES – ‘Ultra Mono’

❉  Perhaps their loudest album to date, this is an invite to take action.

I remember where I was when I first realised Idles were a band to pay attention to.

Living in Bristol in 2017 (of course), I was hearing their name everywhere. At Simple Things Festival at the (now) Bristol Beacon, having just watched Wild Beasts, I left the main hall to get a drink.

When I returned, I was punched in the face by a wall of sound and a completely unrecognisable atmosphere to when I’d left. The hall was fit to burst now and the throbbing bass of Mother and Joe’s snarling vocals reverberated around the room. I edged in closer, only to be yanked into the thick of it by a bobbing pink beanie hat attached to my pal Kieran and tactically downed my G & T.

I bought Brutalism that Sunday & was a member of the now infamous AF Gang Facebook group by Monday, which at the time, must have had about 3,000 Idles maniacs.

Idles. Photo: Tom Ham.

The mania has since spread & the group is now 30,000 strong. The release of Joy simultaneously solidified and catapulted them to success in both the UK and internationally. Do you hear that Thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers, indeed.

On their third album, produced by none other than Kenny Beats, Ultra Mono is perhaps their loudest instalment to date, with the same no holds barred anger and urgency as their previous records.

During such ‘unprecedented’ times, this album hits different.

Joy was Idles stating their Manifesto, Ultra Mono is a call to arms.

Speaking of call to arms, the album kicks off with War that roars in ready for a fight, building up intense crescendos to Talbot’s onomatopoeic ‘Wa-ching!’ followed by hurtling iambic verse and James Joyce-esque lyrics ‘Shh Shh Shh! That’s the sound of the children tooker!’ – a song fitting for an opening track at their upcoming, incredibly sold out tour next year. Grounds provides raw hip hop energy and a likeness to Scroobius Pip’s solo record, Distraction pieces, with a bit more dance-punk!

My standout tracks on this record are Model Village, with its catchy hooks and take on small town living, the restrictions and close-mindedness of living rurally which hailing from Pembrokeshire, I can attest to! I can’t wait to go home to my folks  and scream ‘I beg your pardon, I don’t care about your rose garden!’ over the fence. That’ll show ‘em.

Tackling autonomy and women’s experiences,  featuring the excellent Jehnny Beth, Ne Touche Pas Moi hits hard on it’s harmonious chorus, Talbot and Beth’s vocals complimenting each other beautifully.

Carcinogenic is spitting fury at British Austerity and an anthem to live by. The fury doesn’t stop there when the question ‘How does it feel to have blue blood, coursing through your veins, huh?!’ is posed in Reigns with a violent imagery of a country done dirty by a Tory government. They really mean business,  with a  noise jazz feel about it, like a The Comet is Coming song.

After coming under fire last week for their lack of female representation in an NME article, which was a valid criticism (There are so many! I’m currently loving Billy Nomates), they really did pull it out of the bag with their female-centric support announcements for their HUGE 2021 tour with the likes of Cate Le Bon, Jehnny Beth, Big Joanie, Sinead O’Brien, Wych Elm, Shopping, Anna Calvi & Witch Fever. I suggest you do your research before heading out, this will really be something.

Post-Punk Rhythm roar of  guitars from Bowen and  Kiernan is present as ever throughout, with bass monster Dev giving it his all, explosive drum delivery from Beavis and Talbots demand that we listen. More experimental and ad-libbed in comparison to their predecessors (But still tightly wound in musicality!) It’s an invite to take action.

All in all, a strong contender of an album, and with the backing of AF Gang, which is a movement in itself and almost an extension of the band at this point , it’s sure to further cement their success. But who gives a shit what I think?!

Enjoy lads. AND ladies.

❉ IDLES – ‘Ultra Mono’ released 25 September 2020 via Partisan Records. Socials: Official | Facebook | Twitter | IG | YouTube

❉ Cori Ann Smith is a writer for We Are Cult. A Cardiff-based Literature grad, Horror nerd & eclectic Indie cindy, you’ll mostly find her immersed in a book or in a festival crowd, usually with a beer. Perpetually working on a book of short stories… @coriflowercheez on Twitter.

Become a patron at Patreon!