Bristol punk rockers IDLES have broken the exciting news that their fourth album ‘CRAWLER’ is set for release on 12 November later this year.
They’ve barely been away since their third album ‘Ultra Mono’ dropped last September, after the success of that record followed up by a series of guest features, cover projects and experimental soundtracks.
But Joe Talbot and co. have clearly been on something of a purple patch in the studio, opting to surge forward with this release rather than rest on their laurels.
In truth, any option to hesitate would not have been in keeping with the philosophy of IDLES.
As a collective, they have spoken previously about wanting to make up for lost time in the industry; a potential resentment for only gaining recognition once they had entered their thirties.
They have never wasted a stage, wavered on their principles nor apologised for who they are and what they represent, and this confidence seems to be helping them be so prolific now.
Their style has been one-of-a-kind, brash and sometimes divisive on previous records, and while much of the same can be expected, there are hints that a softening of the raucous energy could be apparent on Crawler.
The announcement of the new album on 28 September was accompanied by the release of a first single, ‘The Beachland Ballroom’, which contrasts with previous releases in several ways.
First off, the opening chords evoke the spirit of Lesley Gore’s much-covered female empowerment anthem ‘You Don’t Own Me’, and mark a break from guitar licks usually more akin to influences like The Clash, The Fall or Gang of Four.
Though the tempo and rage do rise quite considerably, it’s on a scaled-down and more controlled level compared to the group’s most notable works, such as ‘Never Fight a Man with a Perm’, ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘War’.
The barks of ‘damage, damage’ that reach a crescendo late in the song plainly convey the mental trauma that this album covers, but the lyrics before that, in what the group themselves describe as a soul song, require much deeper consideration.
In an interview with BBC Radio 6’s Steve Lamacq – who the group have consistently shouted out for his backing – IDLES guitarist Mark Bowen revealed that Crawler is more likely to creep up on audiences.
“What we’ve tried to do with this album is [focus on the idea] that it would be a lot more kind of nuanced.
“But at the same time, I still think there’s that kind of smack in the face, it’s just you kind of don’t realise it until thirty seconds later.”
Bowen himself steps up the production table on this record, but had a significant figure beside him in that task.
The band have enlisted the help of Kenny Beats, whose previous credits include Denzel Curry’s ‘Unlocked’, the last two Vince Staples albums, and tracks from the most recent Slowthai and Dominic Fike albums.
It could be considered an unusual place to turn, with punk rock not usually within Beats’ remit of work.
IDLES appear to see more than just face value when it comes to selecting their collaborators, however, and the band seem more than happy with their decisions on this project.
Talbot praised Beats in a recent interview with Variety, saying: “Kenny’s very welcoming and his energy levels are through the roof, but in a very infectious way.
Dont talk to me about anything except IDLES until 2022
— kennybeats (@kennybeats) September 29, 2021
“It’s not an egotistical energy, where it’s all about him and his stories. He just wants to bring you up. He encourages your individuality with brilliance.”
Ultimately, it doesn’t appear that fans of IDLES’ usual boisterous anthems should be worried about the band’s artistic direction.
A completely remodelled Spotify bio sees the band reassure listeners, saying: “There are, of course, numerous moments that will inspire absolute mayhem in a packed concert venue, but there are also fresh textures and experiments that push IDLES into thrilling new territory.”
With Talbot and Bowen as the main protagonists on this album and the modus operandi revealed as the mental and physical struggles of isolation amidst the pandemic, there should be little doubt that Crawler will be momentous.
It’ll be different, and potentially more daring than anything the band has produced before.
For IDLES, that’s a rather strong statement indeed.
‘CRAWLER’ will be released on 12 November on vinyl, CD and all digital formats, with pre-orders available now.
Feature Image Credit: Partisan Records