Idles: Tangk (digital outlets)

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Idles: Tangk (digital outlets)

If the British five-piece Idles haven't previously crashed onto your pathway you might need a little warning: singer-writer Joe Talbot has been a troubled man so sings a troubled song.

Sometimes he has roared them out as he has grappled with addiction, being a carer for his stroke-affected mother, living through Brexit and all the pressures of the 21st century which roll like a scroll of misery and doubt: racism, therapy, questions about being a male, xenophobic Britain, the monarchy . . .

It was a lot to process, in addition to having a new daughter.

But that was then and Tangk is now.

And while he's not suddenly become a flower child folkie (um, far from it, the album explodes with energy in places) he seems to have found a better place where compassion and love can be as effective – and maybe more so – than inchoate, raging fury.

Not to say this album dials things down, not at all.

But what's here is a terrific collection of diverse songs which are welded into a complete package of emotions which are complex, subtle and delivered with a gripping musicality and a hard-edged lyricism.

With producers Nigel Godrich (Radiohead's Kid A etc) and Kenny Beats, the Bristol band's songs are transformed into highly focused, discrete slices driven by the sharp, full-frontal drums of Jon Beavis with serrated guitar from Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen.

As if announcing a different tack, the album opens with the muted and restrained Idea 01 – a bit Radiohead artiness – before asserting itself with the post-punk pop anger of Gift Horse where those drums propel everything forward.

There is sonic complexity here (the art-rock soundscape which closes Pop Pop Pop), more reflective songs (the piano ballad A Gospel, Grace) and a thumper in Dancer -- with LCD Soundsystem -- hauling punters into the moshpit through the rhythm team of bassist Adam Devonshire and drummer Beavis.

Tapping the skillful reductivism of Gang of Four as much as engaging pop-dance (Roy, which gets the hips swaying while he admits “I'm sorry for the things that I said . . . I'm never gonna die”), Tangk is quite a journey through sound and feeling.

It is rough when it needs to be but Talbot here reins in his more extreme emotions and achieves as much through understatement and clarity as he did with fury.

Great rock-cum-art album.


You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here

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