Image: Sonic PR

IDLES’ new album TANGK melds great musicality with the realities of personal life

IDLES’ new studio album TANGK provides songs that have an incredible amount of emotion baked directly into them. These are accompanied by some addictive electronic elements that’ll keep you around for their distinct sound and message. The storytelling can be felt right across the album, with the music cutting through your soul if you’re not prepared for it. In many ways, it forces you to reminisce and reflect seriously on the plights and the joyous moments in your own life.

Sometimes, I listen to music just for the sound, but here the band give us so much more. They provide expert lyricism accompanied by some incredible shows of musicality. Maturity and understanding of musical form and how to utilise it to add to the story they seek to tell.

The album’s first track, ‘IDEA 01’ places listeners into an entirely eerie atmospheric opening, assisted by scattered piano playing and a thumping drumbeat. This introduction is then pierced by vocals that rise gently above the music. The vocals have their place in the song, and don’t impose on the atmosphere the band has created, instead only enhancing it.

Songs throughout the album have a very predictable pattern of rising and falling but just without a complete drop; they rely heavily on a repetitive, simple beat to carry songs. This predictability is noticeable to the point where songs appear simple and familiar in form, yet they still completely subvert such expectations. The rises leave you suspended, yearning for more only for complete anticlimax which is potentially utilised to represent the songs’ melancholic expression.

‘Gift Horse’ gets off to a rollicking start and is a complete shift in mood and sound from ‘IDEA 01’. The guitar sells this song to you with a powerful sound emanating from its body. It’s the sort of song you’ll turn the volume up for. The rugged vocals also add to that. At points, vocalist Joe Talbot competes with the instruments for space on the track, but it’s an even battle in the end as it melds incredibly.

The lyrics are visceral, direct, and in your face

‘POP POP POP’ is quite a downbeat tune. It has a wavey backing track which rises with a strong beat that rings throughout the album. I don’t feel as though his voice has enough presence, but perhaps it does fit what this song requires, a solemn sole search; that is entirely self-reflecting and potentially down and out.

‘Roy’ also sounds as if it’s going to be a repeat of the previous track, a downtrodden tale, but it becomes an incredibly uplifting song – and this is what a lot of their music seems to be about, dealing with reality. But at the same time, it is about confronting and overcoming imperfections in life and relationships. It speaks to the realities that are familiar to many listeners’ lives. The wavering electronic sound is a good touch, as Talbot belts out a remorseful, “babe”. Their music speaks to life and what we all experience love, loss, and gain – but with that strong impassioned message of love prevailing all. Love being allowed a big stage in a rock album doesn’t seem quite right, but it’s certainly a welcome inclusion to the scene.

It’s a brilliant rock album that culminates everything that modern music should do

The song ‘Dancer’ is a personal favourite. It has an incredibly pulsating electric opening and a great guitar lick. It creates a heavy moody vibe juxtaposed by this subtle cool guitar that reminds you of hot summer days. Coupled by a heavy bassline that courses along with the vocals perfectly caressing them with every string plucked emulating the notes sung. Then we break out into a total dance arrangement and an uplifting vocal wave effect afflicting your ears. It’s a song that has a lot of personality. It combines that sweet guitar, with a very rough-around-the-edges spikey lead vocal. The lyrics are visceral, direct, and in your face. Some bold musicality and vocal delivery are accompanied by some most intriguing conceits. “Mood in my mouth” is a great line. It’s an album that strays far from the clichés when it comes to its lyricism.

If I had to sum up this album’s theme it would be the framework and journey of love, resolution, reminiscence, and loss. But after all that, a feeling of being uplifted. It’s an album that provides a light at the end of the tunnel for those troubled times, but it’s certainly grounded and provides a tangible portrait of the human condition. This was surely an incredible outlet for IDLES band to quite openly showcase some very personal histories. It’s a brilliant rock album that culminates everything that modern music should do, melds what the classics do well musically, and adds a bit of contemporary electronic sound.


Recommended Listening: ‘Dancer’


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