Right on the point
2020 has been a tough year worldwide, but it might just be the best year for punk. What better than channeling all this frustration and anger in music? IDLES did just that. Their newest album, Ultra Mono, is the band’s third full-length album. The English band is not new to social commentary, but then, which punk band is? The difference is that IDLES brings the beats with them. Each song can stand individually, none is like the other. People can feel, people can rage. Either way, the album will manifest itself inside the mind.
Previously released, “War” speaks for the album. It is hardcore at its fines: destructive sounds with destructive lyrics. The first song of Ultra Mono just hits all the right places. It is dark and fast while ending in this one hopeless message: “And we’re all going to hell.” One of the highlights on the album follows, “Grounds.” A monotonous beat that just sounds like a starting engine. “That’s the sound of strength in numbers,” Joe Talbot, the lead vocalist, sings. The entire track is just one dark social commentary, a la IDLES.
“Mr. Motivator” shows again how political and clever lyrics can be. This is best illustrated with the line, “Like Kathleen Hanna with bear claws grabbing Trump by the pussy.” Kathleen Hanna is a very prominent feminist, and member of groundbreaking bands like Bikini Kill. The whole song features multiple well-known names that are worth googling. It is a brilliant play with the roles of these people and something so utterly ridiculous. Like “Grounds,” the song calls for unification, working together against the problems this world faces.
One of the most “in your face” tracks on the album, is with no doubt, “Model Village.” The song tackles the hidden racism and open ignorance in the world, especially in prominent wealthy communities. The guitar solos are energetic and offer a break from screaming along with the lyrics. With “Ne Touche Pas Moi,” the band addresses the ongoing sexism and the objectifying of women in the music world, on stage and sadly, off-stage. One of the most critical lyrics is the repetitive shouting of “consent” because consent is essential. The band goes on to rage about more problems, like wage inequality (“Carcinogenic”), royal families (“Reigns”), their own haters (“The Lover”) and personal insecurity (“A Hymn”). The album ends with a “Danke” (german for thank you). The song features a nice homage to the late Daniel Johnston.
Ultra Mono shows how relevant IDLES are; they offer the same insight as always, but confront the issue directly with their own style. It’s a great album to listen to when people just feel angry and frustrated with the world. The wits of the lyrics are smart and make the album just so much more special.