Single Review: IDLES – Grounds

On 25th September 2020, IDLES release their highly anticipated third album Ultra Mono on Partisan Records. Ahead of this release, and as a follow up to the previously released track ‘Mr Motivator’, IDLES have recently shared another album track ‘Grounds’ along with a music video directed by Rob French. Recorded in Paris and produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), with Kenny Beats (FKA Twigs, DaBaby, Vince Staples) providing additional programming, Ultra Mono was sonically constructed to capture the feeling of a hip-hop record. Across all twelve brutally relevant tracks, the band double down on the vitriolic sneer and blunt social commentary of their past work, with themes of active presence, inclusivity, class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity remaining ever-present. Ultra Mono features guest vocals from Jehnny Beth (Savages), and additional guest contributions from Warren Ellis (The Dirty Three, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow (Scratch Acid, The Jesus Lizard), and acclaimed jazz pianist Jamie Cullum.

So what of this latest release? The guitar sounds different. It’s almost got an electronic feel to it? I’m not surprised as producer Nick Launay is able to get all sort of sounds from his bands as seen in his work with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for one. The bass and drums also feel really sharp and almost staccato in their delivery. This feels like ‘classic’ IDLES, yet it’s got something new, something  else…

Talbot’s vocal delivery is absolutely incendiary as always and revels in his hate for “staring at The Sun” and the resounding call to arms with the “can you that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers”.

The track bobs and weaves and is as dizzying as the accompanying video. Starring Talbot in a gritty, dramatic and feverishly twisty car chase, ‘Grounds’ is a massive call to arms for the unsupported, the unloved, the underfunded, the foodbank users, the list is endless. The final cries of “I am I unify” resonates long after the track finishes. But doesn’t that happen with every single IDLES track anyway?

IDLES have the unique ability to create conversations, and discuss issues that are uncomfortable for the few, yet are daily occurrences for the many. It’s not a coincidence that they resonate with so many people as it’s the majority they speak for.

‘Grounds’ is not a major departure from IDLES’ previous output, yet it feels like the beginnings of some new sonic experimentation, albeit with their tongue firmly in their cheeks (‘Mr Motivator’)

Watch the brilliant video here:

Ahead of the album release, IDLES will also host a series of three live performances from an iconic studio space (to be named later) on Aug 29 & 30. These performances  will be professionally recorded, filmed, and livestreamed. Upon purchase of a ticket, attendees will receive a unique link to access the performance live. Tickets are on sale now and a link to purchase tickets is here.

Review by Ioan Humphries:

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