Music Review

IDLES – TANGK : Taming the Beast

todayFebruary 15, 2024 205

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By – Paul Cordes Wilm

Bad news : If you have known and loved IDLES’ bold and aggressively in-your-face punk music from their debut album (2017’s BRUTALISM) and were stunned and slightly irritated by a few of the songs on 2021’s CRAWLER in which lead singer Joe Talbot trades in his go-to shout style for some actual no-nonsense soul singing and the band accordingly and melodically slows things down, then you’re in for an unpleasant surprise with their latest offering, 2024’s TANGK.

Good news : If you either have no idea who IDLES are or you’ve only heard a few tracks from CRAWLER and you were more impressed and pleased with their new slower and melodic songs, TANGK will soon become one of your favorite albums of the year. 

Like it or not, IDLES have clearly broken new ground. Where CRAWLER merely hints at this slightly “pop” notion of exploring less snarlingly aggressive realms, leaving the listener to make what they will of that softer direction, TANGK unapologetically dives head-first into this new territory. Not that every single track on the album is sweet and pretty. There’s no question : IDLES are still IDLES. The big difference is that the band now channels their furious and frustrated energies into an entirely new sonic beast. A bigger, more unpredictable beast that is no longer defined by it’s punk rock cage of yesterday. 

The resulting sound is simultaneously more primal, more experimental, more playful and more soulful. Instead of reinventing themselves, IDLES have refined what they do best and simply thrown away the rest. Guitarist and main maestro Mark Bowen was joined in producing the album by Kenny Beats (who worked on CRAWLER) and more importantly Nigel Godrich (of Radiohead producing fame) … The presence of Godrich on the album can be immediately and clearly felt throughout TANGK. It’s an unexpectedly perfect fit in terms of the band’s progression. Listen to Radiohead’s Kid A and Amnesiac for references.

To top it off, we discover that Joe Talbot really and truly can SING. The album finds him exploring his full vocal range, emotionally moving the listener with belted-out lyrics that often feel deeply confessional and more focussed on matters of the heart and soul rather than beer-blurred politics and rants on toxic masculinity.  Surprisingly, some of the results are nearly tear-jerking.

All-in-all, TANGK is an evolutionary win. This album finds the band not only giving themselves room to breathe, but in the process, also allowing their listeners an unprecedented and privileged glimpse behind IDLES’ angry, riotous and raucous curtain. Chances are, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by with what you see, hear and feel.

Written by: Paul Wilm

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