Ultra Mono

Written by: PP on 05/02/2021 23:31:13

After discovering "Ultra Mono" on so many best-of 2020 lists, I figured we owe our readers our raw opinion on the third Idles full-length, especially since their 2017 Roskilde Festival performance is still eclectic in my memory. What I found on the Englishmen's record is best summarized as overhyped, pretentious post-punk that feels like it's pandering to the NME-worshipping indie-turned-'dangerous' hipster crowds that the UK was plagued with during the mid-2000s when I went to university there.

"Ultra Mono" most of all reminds me of iceage back when they first began garnering popularity: everyone says it is good so it must be so, objective tastebuds and traditional songwriting appreciation damned to hell. However, closer critique reveals the simplicity and a naked attempt at recapturing, or rather, maliciously repurposing a rebellious punk spirit with roots in the age old origins of the movement into a translated, postmodern, flamboyant, and overtly pretentious format where unrelated issues triumph over the music itself. Of course, in a live environment, the Idles experience is nothing like this. But why is it then that "Ultra Mono" sounds like a hipster's bible?

I'm sure you all remember The Streets and their song "Fit But You Know It"? This record is basically that song on repeat, backed by noisy post-punk instrumentation with occasional nods to The Hives style garage punk in the guitar department. It's off-tune, unmelodious ideals that rely on trying to make a point of the ugliness and lack of polish in the sound. But where an artist like Jeff Rosenstock makes that sound like a brilliant cacophony of melodies that everyone's welcome to, Idles instead sound like the closed-minded, uninviting antonym that most of all feels like it doesn't want you anywhere near them nor their sound.

What makes matters worse is that there are genuinely great songs on "Ultra Mono" as well. "Carcinogenic", "Model Village", and "Kill Them With Kindness" are such examples where their post-punk madness just works: the songs have enough structure and garage-style edge to them to rub on. But they are unfortunately surrounded by hapless attempts at rebellion like "The Lover", which is just about as pretentious sound-wise as a song can get, or tracks like "Grounds" or "Danke" that just do absolutely nothing other than scream "Hey, I am loud, LIKE ME for fucks sake!. And it's not that Idles necessarily attempt to sound pretentious. They just do as a result of everything they do on this record. It's a sense of arrogance and preach that reeks throughout the album and poisons everything good they do in between.

Download: Model Village, Carcinogenic,
For the fans of: iceage, Fontaines D.C., Viagra Boys, Metz, Savages
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.09.2020
Partisan Records

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