IDLES - Ultra Mono
Two critically acclaimed albums, countless sold out shows around the world, an emotional, memorable 2019 Glastonbury set and an ever-growing army of dedicated fans across the world has resulted in IDLES being one of British best band. Now, the Bristol boys are marching back into the limelight with their third album Ultra Mono.
Ultra Mono was recorded in Paris and produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), with Kenny Beats (FKA Twigs, DaBaby, Vince Staples) adding additional programming to capture a feeling of a hip-hop album. If Brutalism and Joy set out IDLES’ ideology, then Ultra Mono is a sound of a band willing to fight for what they believe in; and if anyone has a problem with that, in the poetic words of lead singer Joe Talbot on The Lover you can “eat shit”.
Ultra Mono starts in typical IDLES fashion, loud, aggressive and in your face. War is an anti-war war cry with Talbot screaming ‘this means war, anti-war’. Grounds, one of the singles released to promote the album, came out during lockdown and it felt like the perfect song for our country’s current climate. Talbot explained the aim of Grounds was that “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief - a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jack hammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So, we did. Thank you."
IDLES have always been unapologetically unsubtle at targeting their anger towards the parts of society they feel are an insure, whether that is the Tory government or the “nine fingered boys in the village”. Songs such as Anxiety, Model Villages, Carcinogenic are examples of why they are one of Britain’s most important bands. Whether you like it or not (looking at you, Sleaford Mods) IDLES are putting topics not often spoken about in mainstream music, into the public eye. For example, Ne Touche Pas Moi (which translates to ‘don’t touch me’) is a song all about women having the freedom to enjoy themselves on a night out, with Talbot yelling “consent” over and over and over again almost as a away to drill in the importance of consent to the British public.
In all, Ultra Mono is a celebration of community. The album is full of themes of active presence, inclusivity, class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity remaining and these all feature very heavy throughout the album. Ultra Mono has cemented IDLES as the generals of a movement which they started with Brutalism, as their audience grows, new fans continue to come from a sense of not belonging, together creating a diverse congregation of people that are making each other belong.