Album review: IDLES – TANGK

Love is the answer for Bristolian rabble-rousers IDLES on unpredictable fifth album TANGK…

Album review: IDLES – TANGK
Olly Thomas

Joe Talbot doesn’t so much wear his heart on his sleeve as emblazon it all over his body. Whether sharing his political views – against the Tories and prejudice, pro-refugees and community – or dealing with matters as personal as his late mother and the loss of a child, his radical honesty has defined IDLES at least as much as their rabble-rousing post-punk sound. Now, this most self-aware band have refined and redefined both these elements on what may be their most important album since 2018’s breakthrough Joy As An Act Of Resistance.

Musically, TANGK finds IDLES’ style rejuvenated, with drum patterns drawing from soul, techno and hip hop. The sparse beats and ominous background hums of POP POP POP are reminiscent of Radiohead’s Kid A, not uncoincidentally a record produced by this album’s co-conspirator Nigel Godrich. There’s delicacy and tenderness to songs like Roy and A Gospel, with the band’s more traditional lairiness only really incarnated on the Stooges riffage of Hall & Oates. Instead, the LCD Soundsystem-assisted Dancer opens with disco strings and evokes the dancefloor rather than the mosh-pit.

He might have temporarily forgotten Jungle’s tale of arrest and violence, but otherwise Joe wasn’t being ironic when he told K! that these were “all love songs.” They’re just not all about romantic love, digging deeper into love for your child or your family, its importance to a sense of self, Love As A Means Of Redemption.

No god, no king,’ sings Joe on Grace. ‘I said love is the thing.’ That radical honesty hasn’t gone anywhere; that heart has only grown bigger, and it fills every groove on this beautiful album.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Viagra Boys, Tropical Fuck Storm, TV Priest

TANGK is out on February 16 via Partisan

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