Why is Idles’ Ultra Mono on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Points to the future of aggressive music generally in some small but important way.
Some stats & info about Idles – Ultra Mono
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Rock Music, British Bands, Punk, Punk Rock, Hardcore Punk, Post-Punk Revival
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3 out of 5 stars
- When was Ultra Mono released? 2020
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #763 out of 1,000
Idles’ Ultra Mono on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Idles’ Ultra Mono mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
All Music poses that the Idles’ song “Grounds,” from Ultra Mono, is “either a bold new vector in the Idles formula or a slightly awkward step in the wrong direction.” I would argue strongly for the former.
I also think that “Grounds,” in some small but important way, points to the future of aggressive music generally. Sonically, the song is an absolute force. Even though this is music produced by British guys and has an inherently British feel, and has more of a hardcore punk meets spoken/talky-ish rapped lyrics, the attitude and expertly honed aggression feels like a thoroughly worthy successor to Rage Against the Machine.
I first heard “Grounds” sometime in the fall of 2020. I can’t recall if it was right before or just after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election, but either way I and the country (and the world at large) were still immersed (steeped?) in the latter days of the Trump Administration.
I’m not sure what “Grounds” is about, exactly, and I’m not sure that it matters. I do know that there’s something about it both musically and lyrically that is both exciting and makes me quite emotional at the same time.
Do you hear that thunder?
That’s the sound of strength in numbers
For me, there’s something about “Grounds” that connects with what’s going on in the United States, even now in 2022, and will inevitably be playing out for decades to come. About a rapidly changing country and rising majority that just happens to live in enough concentrated states and congressional districts so as to allow a whiter, rural, and deeply conservative/reactionary minority to have a vastly outsized control over the governing of the people of the United States.
Not a single thing has ever been mended
By you standing there and saying you’re offended
“Anxiety” reminds me that Idles front man Joe Talbot shares something in common with Henry Rollins in that they both employ a shouty performance style more than sing for the most part, and therefore rely on their respective guitarists and rhythm sections to balance them out and create the right musical sensibility.
“Anxiety” does this by damping down the guitar during the versus and then opening up rhythmic guitar blasts during the chorus as Talbot bellows, “I have got anxiety, it has got the best of me!”
“Model Village” employs more of an angular, post-punk guitar part, with Talbot going with a shouty/rapping style once again.
As a lover of aggressive yet melodic punk rock, I could listen to “Ne Touche Pas Moi” at length.