IDLES — Ultra Mono — Album Review

Punk | Alternative

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The phrase of “love against hate” is something that has always seemed synonymous with the Bristolian alt-punk band that is IDLES, and it has sort of become their bread and butter essentially. Having sunk into IDLES through their 2018 sophomore album, Joy as an Act of Resistance., it wasn’t difficult for me to pick up on the aesthetic that IDLES wielded.

Having been a fan of idles following that album, I was excited, but also apprehensive about what big project they would release next. Having been accustomed to so many artists who released yearly projects, which now seems to a be a trend which thankfully might be dying out, 2019, in my mind, seemed to be a bit of a wind-down year, in terms of new music from IDLES. And while we were still blessed with a few individual singles from the band, none of which gave me that same level of excitement as JAAAOR.

Fast-forward to early 2020, and we have the release of “Mr. Motivator”, and given the lockdown video that was made for this song, my assumption was that this would be yet another individual single, that was made as a result of lockdown productivity. But little did I know, that “Mr. Motivator” would act as the very first teaser track for their third and newest studio album, Ultra Mono.

There was no chance, by any stretch of the imagination, that I wouldn’t be waiting for Ultra Mono with a high sense of anticipation. However, the earliest of the teasers for this new album felt little more than solid. So in other words, still very enjoyable, but I was hoping that they wouldn’t be the absolute best that the album had to offer. The third teaser, “A Hymn” felt like it was inevitably going to fall into the category of the token slow song, and ultimately came across as too simplistic for my personal liking.

But then along came the fourth and final teaser, “Model Village” which was the biggest kick up the arse I ever needed, and convinced me that my high excitement for the album in full would not be in vain. Not only is “Model Village” arguably my favourite IDLES track to date, but I feel that it does the best job of representing what this band stands against, which is the aforementioned hatred that IDLES are aiming to vanquish, one banger at a time.

I am thrilled to say that the bands sentiment filters into the full album phenomenally well, with even the album cover representing this in a subliminal sense. Almost every track on it has some kind of correlation with love, self-love, or highlighting and eliminating hatred. And when you compare the messages that IDLES throw at listeners through this album, with the blossoming sense of activism that many, included myself, are sensing growth from, and you have an extremely connective album; one that I imagine will succeed greatly in bringing people together in the live shows the band have planned for 2021.

Almost every track on this project carry the kind of energy that make IDLES such an engaging and exciting group, with a lot of them rivalling, or even surpassing the most enjoyable of what we heard on JAAAOR. I would honestly say that there were only two tracks on Ultra mono that I didn’t completely enjoy, those being the aforementioned “A Hymn”, and the opening track “War”, which lyrically felt like a weird choice to start the album off. The use of descriptive noises from vocalist Joe Talbot were honestly utilised far more creatively in one of the later tracks, which is titled “Kill Them With Kindness”.

But aside from that, the level of enjoyability and aesthetic strength that Ultra Mono maintains is amazing to behold. And if you are ever in need of re-kindling your sense of activist love, then this album is one-hundred percent your go-to.

But the burning question still stands, is Ultra Mono an improvement upon the amazing project that was Joy as an Act of Resistance.? My answer would be a resounding yes.

Favourite Tracks: Anxiety | Kill Them With Kindness | Model Village | Carcinogenic

Least Favourite Track: A Hymn

Partisan Records


My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.