Ultra Mono

Idles - Ultra Mono
Critic Score
Based on 34 reviews
2020 Ratings: #283 / 809
Year End Rank: #43
User Score
2020 Ratings: #92
Liked by 82 people
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Louder Than War
It’s a wonderful record. It makes you dance, think, feel wild and gentle, sing and shout and want to change the world whilst embracing everyone you can in a physically socially distanced but mentally very socially attached kind of way.
God Is in the TV

Regardless of whether this album changes any stubborn minds on Idles as a band, it is a phenomenal achievement.  They have matched their last album, Joy as an Act of Resistance, in terms of quality.  It is a release that reaffirms that they are deserving of their position as one of a small handful of current rock groups that sit in the public’s consciousness.

Crack Magazine
One could accuse IDLES of sometimes being a bit, shall we say, on the nose, but given the absolute shitshow masculinity has become in a post-Trump, post-Brexit era, perhaps they should be lauded for meeting these topics head on, and with brute force. Because at the end of the day, music – no, the world – needs them.
Under The Radar

It may be easy to write off initially as preachy or reductive but the sharp, self-aware wit and incisive simplicity in the band’s best lyrics make it clear its members are no intellectual slouches.

Q Magazine

At root ... Ultra Mono's strengths are inseparable from its flaws. In fact, some of the crudest lyrics, like Reigns or the condescending Brexitland caricature Model Village, are framed by the most irresistible music. IDLES's brute-force catharsis neither requires nor rewards subtlety.


Ultra Mono scours like bleach, its fury a purifier.

Idles have rationalised their fury into a single giant bullethead.
The Bristol punks’ third album is a juggernaut that roars through sarcasm, defiance, compassion and controversy. It's a bumpy ride, but one worth taking.
No Ripcord
No gripes here as IDLES deliver their most consistent album to date with a handful of their most rough-cut diamonds sparkling through.
Classic Rock

Emotionally draining, masculine in a forward-looking sense, fragmented but bone-shakingly whole.


IDLES know how hard it is out there, now more than ever, but that's all the more reason for raised fists and unceasing resistance. Last time they did it joyfully, and before that, they did it brutally. Now those elements come together, whether for a fight or a moment of gratitude.

The Independent

It's a one-tone listen. But that shout-in-your-face directness is exactly what makes Ultra Mono so powerful. This is rock music that compels you to pay attention.


Bristol punks IDLES deliver a state of the world address in sharp, stark, brilliant fashion with Ultra Mono.


On 'Ultra Mono' IDLES push the boundaries of what has been expected from them with rightly-earned brazen confidence that has resulted in their best work to date. This is a band who no longer need to prove themselves.


For all of the ugly rage and fury at modern life on display here, it is also a celebration of the beauty that can happen when people come together in love and unity to face the turmoil and traumas of an increasingly angry, shouty, scary world, and facing it armed only with a hug.

The Observer
The curious mix of earnestness and unambiguous anger, slightly heavy-handed satire (the Brexit-inspired Model Village perhaps could have made its point without mentioning “gammon”) and brilliant absurdism (“Kathleen Hanna with bear claws grabbing Trump by the pussy”) perhaps shouldn’t work, and yet does so.
The Needle Drop

Ultra Mono is Idles' most sonically and thematically focused album so far, occasionally to a slight fault.

Consequence of Sound

At its strongest, Ultra Mono offers a fresh set of urgent rallying cries for anyone interested in furthering workers’ rights, dismantling systemic racism, and knocking out a few Nazi teeth. The record’s missteps mostly come when Talbot finds himself on the defensive, a position that finds him turning out poison-pen responses to critics that probably felt better to sing than they do to hear.

For their third album, IDLES look to upscale their sound and vision through collaboration. The result is a mammoth record of intent, an album of big ideas with bigger sounds.
Loud and Quiet

Their schtick isn’t tired yet, the humour is as enjoyable as it ever was, and the world is still in a grim enough state that every emission from Joe Talbot is welcome. Ultra Mono is not a record to change anybody’s mind about IDLES, nor is it a sign of any dropoff in form.

Northern Transmissions

Musically, Ultra Mono is as tight, ballistic, and in your face as IDLES have ever been ... Lyrically, Ultra Mono is louder – and prouder – than the band have ever been.


IDLES are at their best when they know their limits and play to their strengths. Like a hard liquor, they're harsh, bitter and indelibly intoxicating. They will provoke you to join a mosh pit or ram your head into a wall, and they might prompt you to vote Labour in the next election.

While not their best work, ‘Ultra Mono’ takes many leaps forward in terms of songwriting and tunecraft, while blowing a few kisses at their detractors. That’ll be mission accomplished.
If ‘Ultra Mono’ is their attempt to critique their own pedestal, it might not read as radical as they would have liked.

Without applying any analysis, there is much to enjoy here; their raucous energy shines just as bright, but underneath the surface Ultra Mono lacks the sparkle that made their first two records truly special.

Beats Per Minute
It’s 2020: let’s try the simplicity of hope and clichéd positivity for a change. Maybe this tight collection of high-octane nursery rhymes and simple chants will do the trick.
The Line of Best Fit

Ultra Mono is an enjoyable but ideologically confused record and one in which some of IDLES best material must compensate for some of their worst.

Spectrum Culture
Their third round does little to motivate and only comes across as misguided and fake.

It’s unsubtle and it’s inconsistent, but Ultra Mono has an awkward frankness to it that isn’t entirely without charm.

The Sydney Morning Herald

It’s an intoxicating racket, and they remain formidably tight, but Idles’ most powerful statement may be behind them.

The Bristol punk band’s third album goes for fist-in-the-air righteousness but stumbles over itself at nearly every turn, resulting in a broad and unfocused attempt to speak to the moment.
Love them or hate them, IDLES has quickly become one of the most essential bands in modern times. The group have an insanely dedicated fan base in the AF Gang and can pretty easily pack one of their raucous and chaotic live shows, but they are most certainly not without their detractors either. Whether that be listeners claiming their lyrics are too direct or ridiculous, their sound isn't versatile, or even other artists like Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods claiming the group are ... read more
“I'll be your hammer
I'll be your nail
I'll be the house that allows you to fail” - Joe Talbot, 2020

At the best of times, the world is a dark, bleak place that seems to trade compassion and earnestness for cynicism and deceit. Happiness, when one can find it, is something that not many people tend to achieve long term, as sad as it may seem. “The world is a vicious place” is a term i’ve heard all my life, and frankly it's a phrase that scares me half to death. ... read more
Quickest way to sum up this album is that it’s Joy as an Act of Resistance but worse in every way. Still a decent release though.
Listening to IDLES is the musical equivalent to walking down to the street and getting jumped on by a bunch of burly English men with handlebar mustaches (even on their dicks). They stop kicking you on the ground for what feels like an eternity until the gang leader gives you a 20 dollar bill for the local ice cream parlor. After a final kick to the shins, they leave and you wonder what the fuck happened. You don’t really like the fact that they beat the ever living piss out of you just ... read more
IDLES released what was possibly one of the most disappointing records of the last year, but only in comparison to their older work, as on “Ultra Mono” the band finds itself simply recycling sonic palettes and song themes that were already superiorly explored on their previous releases.

The only reason that my score is so high for this album would be for my love for the band, their unique punk approach with “Brutalism” and “Joy as an Act Of Resistance.” ... read more
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Track List

  1. War
  2. Grounds
  3. Mr. Motivator
  4. Anxiety
  5. Kill Them With Kindness
  6. Model Village
  7. Ne Touche Pas Moi
  8. Carcinogenic
  9. Reigns
  10. The Lover
  11. A Hymn
  12. Danke
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Added on: June 16, 2020