Idles are a promising band that are tipped to break through in 2017 by many respected journalists. But I, neither of those, believe this album lacks the potential that is teased to us by the singles. They have made a record here that would be a spectacle to see live but fails to grasp that energy in the studio. With promising singles, such as ‘Mothers’, it is disappointing that the standard was not maintained throughout the album but they are certainly pathing the way to building a good live reputation.
Idles instrumental strength is at its peak in ‘Divide and Conquer’, the haunting guitar introduction set up a promising track. Although the song did not live up to what I had hoped, the relationship between the band and their chemistry was more apparent. ‘Date Night’ served as a vocal low point, although not many on the album, that seemed liked a reconsidered Slaves B-side. This track perhaps was made to be enjoyed live and I’m sure it would fulfil that aim as it is very energetic.
For me, the highlights on the album are definitely the singles but there are some surprising tracks that caught my ear on the second listen through of the album. ‘1049 Gotho’ was just like any other average post-punk album filler but upon second listen through, I did become drawn to the good instrumentals. ‘Exeter’ is a track that is catchy and is similar to ‘Rachel Khoo’ as they both have recognisable and melodic riffs that are pleasing to the listener.
Described as ‘stand alone’ by CRACK, I can’t help but feel I listened to a different album to they did. The new tracks I had heard 100 times before by some other post-punk breakthrough band. Whilst Idles have unique parts to their sound I could not get away from this comparison to Slaves, with the lead singer’s voice resembling Isaac Holman’s to the point of being a parody.
I think lazy would be a harsh criticism to describe the lyrics to some songs but I found myself so bored of the repetitive and simplified lines. ‘Well Done’ had lyrics that were nonsensical but also educational as I did take away from this song that Mary Berry loves reggae, proving the point I made at the beginning of this sentence. ‘Well Done’ was one of the most relevant songs with topical lyrics throughout whilst also repeating the fun ‘I’d rather cut my nose off to spite my face’ over and over and over, and over, again.
There were many reoccurring themes throughout the album such as employment, or the lack of it, and religious references. This attempt of releasing an album which is both conscious and the filler for what guitar music is lacking at the moment, pays off in parts but seems uninspiring in others. The third single released, ‘Stendhal Syndrome’, teased the range of the album, another good one to make sure you see live.
‘Mother’ was another glimpse at the bands political rhetoric showing through and also their playing capabilities, screaming “the best way to scare a tory…” over the complimented bass. ‘Mother’ builds up to the climax of the song interestingly that gave a refreshing angle to the album.
This album was an average attempt to fill the hole of what is lacking in modern music. Its attempt at consciousness in their lyrics and strong instrumentals are strong points to this album but some songs seem to blend together and are unremarkable. If some of these tracks went the direction that 2015 track ‘Meydei’ did, then I believe this would be a better and more impressive album. The singles were strong but the rest of the album failed to maintain the standard but nonetheless I recommended seeing this band at Reading & Leeds festival this summer as they are tipped to be one of the hottest breakthrough live bands. A live reputation can spur on Idles success where the studio has failed them.
Words by Jack Wager.