Idles' Ultra Mono is stripped-back, brutal, and lacerating

Forged during lockdown, Idles' Ultra Mono feels entirely appropriate for these times

Idles - Ultra Mono
(Image: © Partisan)

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Sonically this record is stripped-back and brutal, focused; reminiscent of Public Enemy and Sleaford Mods as much as underground punk heroes Mclusky (2000s) and Big Black (1980s) with its relentless repetition and metal discord. 

It’s smart: acerbic and politically charged in its bleakness, single Mr. Motivator wilfully tearing apart broken Britain to build new diverse communities, Anxiety piling on the pressure. Not punk rock by container, punk through attitude. 

Ultra Mono is Idles’ third album, recorded over 2019 but forged during lockdown, and its lacerating connections feel entirely appropriate for these times. Emotionally draining, masculine in a forward-looking sense, fragmented but bone-shakingly whole.

As The Slits once sang, silence is a rhythm too. Often you notice the instruments more because they’re left to stand alone: hoarse, guttural implications are offset by clang and friction. 

How does it feel to have blue blood coursing through your veins?’ singer Joe Talbot intones, echoing (unconsciously?) Crass’s classic How Does It Feel over a welter of dissonance before the whole fucking world explodes. ‘How does it feel to have shagged the working classes into dust?

Everett True started life as The Legend!, publishing the fanzine of that name and contributing to NME. Subsequently he wrote for some years for Melody Maker, for whom he wrote seminal pieces about Nirvana and others. He was the co-founder with photographer Steve Gullick of Careless Talk Costs Lives, a deliberately short-lived publication designed to be the antidote to the established UK music magazines.