Ultra Mono signifies IDLES move from underground post-punk greats to giants of alternative music both in the UK and worldwide. It shows a growing maturity in IDLES’ sound which is great to hear and, like much of their previous work, takes every possible opportunity to shove a mirror into the ugly face of society. Whilst I do not think it is the band’s finest work, it would have been near impossible to eclipse their 2019 album Joy as an Act of Resistance, and there is no shortage of amazing songs on this album: ‘Anxiety’, ‘Carcinogenic’, and ‘Reigns’ being the main highlights of the album, in my eyes. This album has been rightfully praised by fans and the music press alike and, as an IDLES fan myself, I cannot wait to hear what it sounds like when performed live.
One issue I did have with the album was the seemingly dumbed-down lyrics on tracks like ‘Ne Touche Pas Moi’ – the chorus consisting of Talbot chanting ‘Consent’, which was a disappointing change from the usually articulate and well-thought-out prose on previous tracks. The inclusion of Jehnny Beth (of Savages fame) also wasn’t used to its full potential as she only seems to have a small part in the song. That being said, the inclusion of important societal issues (racism, xenophobia, consent, among others) on this album was refreshing, and necessary, given the state of the world in which we live. IDLES continue to reject the majority of popular music in the charts, which seems to bury its head in the sand and pretend everything is okay.
As the liner notes say, “Don’t like it, don’t listen”.
Header image: IDLES. Credit: Tom Ham via DIY.