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Review: Idles – Tangk

For me, being asked if I want to listen to Tangk, the new Idles record, is like being asked in a pub if I want a Yorkshire pudding with my roast dinner. It’s an instant yes, no hesitation. A yes which brings with it a heightened sense of anticipation for the meal to come and a knowledge that the world has just got slightly better. But, what if that Yorkshire pudding comes and it’s just a bit rubbish? One of those slightly burnt, dried up like a husk, end of the day ones? Could Tangk, Idles fifth album, be one of those? Excitement can bring its own, looming sense of concern…

Thankfully, the boys from Bristol have absolutely knocked it out of the park – again. Tangk is a thing of beauty. An album that grabs you and takes you on a journey from the opening beats and descending piano trill of ‘Idea 01’ to the final line of ‘Monolith’ the last track. Joe Talbot leaves us hanging on the question, ‘Who needs wings when I hear you sing?’ followed by the deep and solitary, saxophone of Colin Webster who soulfully plays the whole album out.

After being drawn in by the opener, the second – ‘Gift Horse’ – is Idles at their unrelenting best. The band are on fire, eternally powered by a Jon Beavis’ masterclass of what great drumming is and the driving, understated brilliance of Adam Devonshire’s bass. The hypnotic ‘Pop pop pop’ follows and at this point there is no way that the album is being paused or turned off anytime soon. If I need to go around the house for any reason then my speaker is coming with me. And so it continues. Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen’s guitars attack like a chainsaw on Hall & Oates – Track 8 – and all of this with Joe’s delicately written lyrics delivered with that haunting intensity that makes you tune in to every word.

Kenny Beats and Mark Bowen come together to produce Tangk, as they have done for the previous two albums, Ultra Mono and Crawler. But this time they are joined by Nigel Godrich – just writing (Radiohead) after his name should be more than enough – and the three have done wonders. Tangk has echoes of Radiohead’s ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ and The Smile’s more recent ‘A Light For Attracting Attention’, all with that dichotomous feeling of a full power assault that is delivered as a whisper.

Tangk is an album of love songs. Joe said, ‘I needed love so I made it. I gave love out to the world and it feels like magic. This is our album of gratitude and power. All love songs. All is love.’ But the love that is offered up feels like a love with all of its joys and all of its barbs. A truly human love of passion, intensity, loss, hope, grief and longing. If this is Idles love letter to the world then it reveals a love that grabs you with an intoxicating power and doesn’t let go while having at its heart a fragility and a purity that could crumble and fall between your fingertips at any moment. Listen to Tangk, listen to it again, break it up with a bit of Nina Simone and then put Tangk back on. Tangk is a love album and I love it.

5.0 rating
Total Score
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