Album review: IDLES – Crawler

The UK’s most incendiary post-punks IDLES continue to evolve, not revolve, on fourth album...

Album review: IDLES – Crawler
Paul Travers

In the half a decade since Brutalism announced the arrival of something truly extraordinary, IDLES have established themselves as one of the UK’s most reliably provocative bands. Last year’s Ultra Mono hit a pinnacle of self-owned sloganeering and bursts of angry noise, neatly encapsulating everything they seemed to be about and scoring a UK Number One album in the process. In the wake of that success they could easily have served up more of the same but Crawler is something altogether different.

The change is apparent right from the off as opener MTT 420 RR revs its engines on the back of the riff from Angel by fellow Bristolians Massive Attack. Dissecting a horrific road accident as a metaphor for frontman Joe Talbot’s descent into addiction – a central theme of the album – it builds the tension through minimalist instrumentation without ever providing the expected noise-burst release. When The Lights Come On evokes the proto-goth creep of Bauhaus and Car Crash sounds like the successor to The Normal’s seminal industrial/synth-pop anthem Warm Leatherette. Even when they look backwards though, they make everything their own and tug it firmly into the present. A case in point is album centrepiece The Beachland Ballroom, which sees the band launching into a big soul tune and Talbot ditching his usual shout-spoken delivery for a rather impressive singing voice. It’s most definitely still IDLES, but not like you’ve heard them before.

There are moments when the sound is more familiarly chaotic. The New Sensation is a driving dig at the Government’s suggestion that people in the arts should simply retrain, Meds throws crazed John Zorn-esque sax breaks atop a distorted bass groove that is pure IDLES, and Wizz is 30 seconds of grinding noise featuring texts from Joe's former dealer transformed into lyrics.

So, this might be a more reflective, experimental IDLES, but they remain a band filled equally with anger, humour and vitriol. And, whichever direction they take, it still sounds fantastic.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: Slaves, The Fall, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Crawler is out now via Partisan Records

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