Alternative | Rock | Post-Punk
For those of you who have been following me for a while, it’s probably no secret to you that I am a huge fan of IDLES. I first started properly becoming a fan of the Bristolian post-punk outfit with the release of their sophomore album, 2018’s Joy as an Act of Resistance. That being said, however, I was well aware of the critical praise towards their 2017 debut Brutalism.
There definitely wasn’t anything that quite sounded like IDLES at the point in which I discovered them. And that sentiment still holds up today. Anything that IDLES puts out, seems like something that could only come from IDLES. There’s such a great sense of rawness that pours out of their music, to create this shadow-lifting sense of realism for the listener. And that, would have to be one of my favourite qualities that this band have.
This only continued for the most part, with the release of their third album Ultra Mono, which was released in the September of 2020. With said album, the band had managed to cast their signature grit with a more accessible mold. It undoubtedly succeeded, in regards to inviting brand new fans on-board. And now that they’re here, it seemed that the band’s next step was to create one of their most realised and fleshed-out records so far.
It really puts into perspective, just how quickly this year has gone. It felt like a matter of months ago, when we were all blessed with Ultra Mono. However, in that time, IDLES have created a whole new album, their fourth effort which goes by the name of CRAWLER.
The announcement of this brand new album came shortly after (if not alongside) their teaser track “The Beachland Ballroom”. Stylistically, it set up this conflicting feeling within me, that this album was going to be vastly different to what IDLES had released before, to the point where their fully realised aesthetic would become lost. Although, it’s worth mentioning that “The Beachland Ballroom” is still an exceptional track; one that I was glad ended up staying unique amongst the rest of CRAWLER.
Following this was the release of the bands second teaser track “Car Crash”, which veered me ever so slightly more towards hopeful expectations towards the album before its release. However, I would say that “Car Crash” ended up being one of those tracks that I managed to appreciate a whole lot more, once the entirety of CRAWLER was out.
It was with the full album, where everything became clear to me, from their direction, to narrative, to aesthetic. I was absolutely in love by how, even by IDLES standards, this managed to be one of their most intriguing and artistic projects to date, which is a great creative decision following the blunt rawness of Ultra Mono. The gravity of the lyrics, belted out by frontman Joe Talbot, brought my mind to a place which I imagine was similar to how people felt towards Brutalism. But upon comparing IDLES’ debut with their latest album, it is clear to see how their sound has evolved, whilst their demeanour has stayed in tact.
This is the kind of album that I could imagine myself listening to while walking the streets after dark. There’s a semi-ominous, but also dynamic feel that this album carries, that really elevates the musical impact of the record to a very high level.
But what also boosts the impact of this album greatly, is its narrative. CRAWLER tells a tale of trauma, accountability, and sobriety. It does magnificently to justify the more introverted approach that CRAWLER was going for.
However, while there’s definitely impact that lies within the artistic introversion, and musical uniqueness of this record, I am still left undecided, when it comes to the overall memorability of the record. As one could expect, the more mixed moods that CRAWLER offers do occasionally allow for a less consistent theme, and thus a slipperier grip upon remembering the album.
Nevertheless, it should go without saying that CRAWLER is still a fantastic record, which would stand as even greater of a record, if it didn’t come from a band that fans know have put out three consistently phenomenal records before it. In terms of the direction the band are going in, it still definitely feels like the right direction, for a well-deserved change in musical style.
Favourite Tracks: The Wheel | Car Crash | Crawl!
Least Favourite Track: MTT 420 RR
Enjoyment: 8/10 | Memorability: 7/10 | Atmosphere: 9/10
Uniqueness: 8/10 | Satisfaction: 7/10 | Narrative: 9/10