Idles’ Top The UK Album Charts With Their Latest Album ‘TANGK’

It’s official! Idles’ new album Tangk has made it to number one in the Official Album Charts! Marking the second occasion Idles’ have achieved the top spot, the first of which being their 2020 album, Ultra Mono. Signed to indie outfit Partisan Records, Idles faced competition for the number one slot from the likes of Kayne West and Paloma Faith. Both of whom had the backing and funding of huge labels- unlike Idles. Making the fact that they managed to pip two industry giants to the post an even greater achievement for the Bristol based five piece. Their success represents the ability for punk rock to prevail even in a dreary mainstream pop dominated landscape.

Tangk is without a doubt slower in pace than any other album released by the band. Each and every Idles’ album is peppered with a few sedated tracks, the deeper emotional meaning of which doesn’t always fit a heavy and rampaging beat. Idles’ song writing evolution marks the perfection of their courageously raw and open use of lyrics to display the most heartfelt feelings of love and all the difficulties that come with it.

As a result, Tangk feels a far more thoughtful album. Utilising instrumentals that better complement the meaning and delicacy of certain themes. For instance, the albums fifth track, ‘A Gospel’ would be completely ruined by the instrumentals of classics such as ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’. Idles’ have clearly worked out this dynamic and in doing so Tangk blends the joyful yet resistant premise set by previous albums with a new sharp edge. There is clearly a concentrated effort towards delivering soulful ‘love songs’. Many fans and music critics have suggested Tangk represents a change of direction for the band, as though Tangk is some sort of outlier in the Idles’ catalogue. But once you accept the slow nature of some of the tracks, it sits completely at home with the other albums. 

Tangk begins with ‘IDEA 01’, in which frontman Joe Talbot details the pain and struggles of a family, attempting to be resilient in a difficult time of emotional and economic uncertainty. It’s a touching song that glides from struggle to struggle. Heartfelt lyrics such as ‘upside down home to a broken home’ and ‘your father couldn’t pay his loans’ forge a somber and slightly unsettling tone. Yet despite these sobering themes, it also holds an underpin of hope in the face of adversity. ‘IDEA 01’ as an opening track is reminiscent of previous album opener ‘MTT 420 RR’. Helping to give Tangk a familiarity and congruence with previous releases, despite the genre and style blending through the album. 

Single release ‘Gift Horse’ for instance, co-produced by Kenny Beats, Nigel Godrich and Idles’ own Mark Bowen, crosses Talbot’s love for his daughter with a defiance to the monarchy. The final lines of the track’s bridge declare ‘fuck the king, he ain’t the king she’s the king’. Wrapping up Idles’ critique of colonial Britain, with Talbot declaring his daughter as his ‘king’ and abandoning any loyalty to the Royal Family. 

Possibly the most ambitious and well executed track on the album is ‘Roy’. It’s a track which has a juxtaposing toxicity to it as Talbot battles with himself to gratify an external individual, gaslighting himself with rhetorical questions of identity as the song progresses. He shows how far he’s willing to compromise himself for love, leaving him vulnerable and reduced to an instinctive desire to please those closest to him. He clearly desperately wants to feel love, ‘If I rip at its neck will you cheer?’, however he acknowledges there’s a futility to his desire, ‘I’m a smart man but I’m dumb for you’.

All in all it’s a great album. Tangk is brave in its focus on ‘love’ as a theme and despite the lack of out and out aggression Idles’ have, no matter what people say, stayed true to their anti establishment roots.

Some fans in the ‘AF Gang’ (Idles’ ever growing Facebook community) have expressed their desire for Idles to move back to the Tory bashing days of debut album ‘Brutalism’. It must be said Idles had an electrifying start to their career with many of their most acclaimed songs coming from earlier releases such as this. To some extent their original sound has been diluted to make way for their new style which is needed to illustrate the complexities of a song’s themes. However that’s not to say Idles don’t continue to stir mosh pits with songs like ‘Gratitude’, ‘Jungle’, ‘Hall and Oates’, ‘Dancer’ and ‘Gift Horse’ marking a return to a more traditional Idles’ sound. All of which are sure to satisfy any fans looking to get a more fast paced fix. 

As a whole, Tangk should be viewed as a component of the Idles canvas. Raucous classics like ‘Mother’ and ‘Rottweiler’ still exist and continue to be a mainstay in their live setlists. This is merely a diversification of offerings from the band. Suiting them up for a gleaming future of love, proving joy is still an act of resistance.

To stay up to date with all things Idles’, including upcoming tours and releases you can check out their official site. Or join the AF Gang on social media and share your thoughts on Tangk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.