Idles
Crawler


4.0
excellent

Review

by Erwann S. CONTRIBUTOR (44 Reviews)
November 12th, 2021 | 146 replies


Release Date: 11/12/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: they back

Not that IDLES were lost forever; their first two albums Brutalism and Joy as an Act of Resistance demonstrated explosive post-punk, the second album being a particularly resounding triumph of sharp political wit and gruff riffs. The discourse sometimes tended towards the cringe, but was supported by bona fide anthems like "Never Fight a Man With a Perm" or "Danny Nedelko". Ultra Mono, on the other hand, did not offer as much musical diversity as its predecessors. Worse, it pushed the cursor of political progressiveness further and indulged excessively in shouted slogans to the detriment of any substance, and this at the limit of self-parody. Frontman Joe Talbot has since admitted that he thinks the album "translated badly" in the absence of live shows last year. Just another way of admitting failure innit.

But with Crawler, IDLES seem reinvigorated and venture into new territory by embracing a complex range of musical influences, resulting in their most visceral and introspective work. Their power is intact and is used to more interesting ends than on the previous album: co-produced by guitarist Mark Bowen and DJ Kenny Beats - who has already appeared on a track on Ultra Mono and worked with Denzel Curry and Vince Staples among others - Crawler sees IDLES go beyond their signature sound. There remains this energy of illuminated barbarians, halfway between drunken hooligans and earnestly annoying anarchists, this time exacerbated by profitable experimentations. Indeed, "MTT 420RR" begins the album with a slow, almost trip-hoppy intensity, taking advantage of the spaced-out production to let every tiny element of its composition slightly reshape the song's course. Named after the motorbike that nearly killed Talbot, this opener takes the band's trademark power and twists it in an almost intimate way, leaving Talbot asking if we're "ready for the storm" amidst a discordant crescendo.

Boi I was ready, but at the same time, I wasn't.

It's not like they performed a complete 360° and decided to play progressive post-reggae, nope; what they did was consolidate their core formula and embellish it with new ornaments, "MTT 420RR" constituting an indication of the album to come. Basically, it's same same IDLES but different yfm? "The Wheel" bears the band's typical galloping rhythm only broken up by already-ready-for-the-next-tour "Can I get a hallelujah?" line, "When the Lights Come On" is a gloomy 80s post-punk slow-burner, while "Car Crash" is an industrial piece whose smash of post-punk and grime is strongly reminiscent of Death Grips. "Crawl!" and "Stockholm Syndrome" do the job as more energetic tracks, with enough original elements - the rhythm guitar bringing power in the chorus coupled with the enthralling "I'm alriiiight" line in "Crawl!", and piercing post-punk riffs carried by powerful "Woohoo"s for "Stockholm Syndrome" - to surpass the unenviable status of sub-"Danny Nedelko". However, it's when the band stray the most from their formula that they touch grace: "MTT 420RR" of course, but especially "The Beachland Ballroom" and "Progress". The first track sees Talbot swap his punk growls for a melancholic crooner's vocal, only regaining his virulence on the final "Damage!" lines, while "Progress" is organised in a succession of repeated lyrics over haunting bleep bloops.

For all these successful experiments, some of them struggle to bring the same level of enthusiasm as the aforementioned ones. Interludes "Kelechi" and "Wizz" are respectively uninteresting and frustratingly short. "Meds" is an aight track in and of itself, but offers nothing more than IDLES except that dissonant sax - so Ultra Mono - and that final "solo" closer to The Shaggs than The Fall. Generally speaking, the most basic tracks (insert Kristen Bell gif), like "The New Sensation" or "King Snake", are nothing more or less than IDLES covering IDLES.

In the end, Crawler convinces the least when it tries to replicate what has already been perfected in the past, proving that this new direction is the right one. The experiments sound just about right, neither too timid nor too radical, and constitute natural expansions of the band's original recipe. The bar has also been raised for Talbot, heavily criticised for his blunt proclamations of Ultra Mono. Here, his candid lyrics deal with addictions and traumas with an approach that is more cathartic than voyeuristic - "Car Crash" remains the perfect example. There are still "message songs", but these are based on simple refrains - like "Despite it all, life is beautiful!" on "The End" - sounding like genuine rock refrains similar to Joy's, not mock-political fartlines. Bringing fun back to the centre of its agenda, Crawler is inventive and compelling at its best, failing only in rare places for lack of commitment to being consistently ambitious. And despite these lil missteps, the band manage to come up with their most consistent album yet.

Yes, the boiz are back.



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user ratings (166)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
dedex
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


10249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

fuck ye lads

fyi fartline is a farty punchline

Stream: https://idlesband.bandcamp.com/album/crawler

someone
November 12th 2021


3917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Fartline is flatlining due to a fart



Great review, can't wait to hear the album

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


10249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks my love, hope you dig this one!

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2021


16179 Comments


Weird artwork. I’m down for that.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2021


26830 Comments


Dex on the job! Damn! That was fast, well done sir!

Will get on this later this week!

Digging: Anna von Hausswolff - Live at Montreux Jazz Festival

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


10249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

gotta try to be as productive as you guys!

kkarron
November 12th 2021


407 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can't listen to it yet even though I've bought it and the vinyl shipped yesterday. Anyone else with the same prob?

Cimnele
November 12th 2021


1863 Comments


i love political sloganeering in music but ultra mono was so clunky, you nailed it with "fartlines" lol
glad to hear this one's better

fogza
November 12th 2021


4082 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, the band has always seemed to be trying too hard but this album doesn't feel so forced

Digging: Tusks - Dissolve

FurtherDown
November 12th 2021


292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Aaah can't wait to jam this, I'm glad that it seems to be a step up after UM.

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


10249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yes come enjoy this y'all

cheers fogzy 😊

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


3817 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

dedex u are my idle

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


10249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

🥰

Flugmorph
November 12th 2021


25558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

they have always been here

absolute slapper of a record

Digging: Mol - Diorama

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


16261 Comments


this is a great review dede, has me encouraged to actually listen to the album

didn't at all like ultra mono

Digging: I Concur - Able Archer

Flugmorph
November 12th 2021


25558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Worse, it pushed the cursor of political progressiveness further and indulged excessively in shouted slogans to the detriment of any substance, and this at the limit of self-parody."



cringe take

Flugmorph
November 12th 2021


25558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

all their records have been 4.5s in my book

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


16261 Comments


> cringe take

nah that take is so fucking true

Flugmorph
November 12th 2021


25558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

only if you're weak and cringe at yourself regularly like a fucking troglodyte

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2021


16261 Comments


model village & co were idles on the nose like a nostril



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