Album Review


If love is the theme here, it’s quickly masked by a balanced ferocity IDLES have never tapped into before.


When IDLES unveiled ‘Dancer’, the lead single from their follow-up to 2021’s GRAMMY-nominated ‘CRAWLER’, something lurked beneath their usual bullish drawl. Beyond the guest vocals by LCD Soundsystem’s regulars, the track tantalisingly hinted at an expanded palette, not least in its dramatic opening string section. Joe Talbot’s spitting vocals remained, but there was something more, something new, and something distinctly different. That vice is fully explored throughout ‘TANGK’, a record that dances between the defining visceral post-punk of IDLES’ career so far and a newfound delicate swarm. Opener ‘IDEA 01’ unfurls as a twisted Sigur Rós, while single ‘Grace’ and choral counterpart ‘A Gospel’ reveal a side of the Bristol five-piece that few would have envisaged in the explosive charge of debut ‘Brutalism’. “Make no mistake, IDLES have not softened…” the record’s accompanying biography reads, superficially at odds with the record’s shift to singing over spoken word, and melody over poignant rants. But despite its embrace of love as an underlying theme, and displaying Joe and co. as their unique blend of happy – albeit with bite - ‘TANGK’ possesses a certain hardness beneath its wide musical spectrum. ‘Hall & Oates’ rattles with distortion among its rallying gang vocals, and ‘Gratitude’ swirls to a riotous crescendo. If love is the theme here, it’s quickly masked by a balanced ferocity IDLES have never tapped into before. With it, their fifth record emerges as a jarring clash between two distinct tones, in part down to the songwriters’ polarising influences, but in among it, the battle veers off to discover unmistakable beauty and connection. By the closing moments of the eery ‘Monolith’, it all becomes clear: this is love, but through the unmistakable eyes of IDLES.

Tags: IDLES, Reviews, Album Reviews

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