British rockers IDLES return with their fifth studio album, TANGK, slated for release on Friday, Feb. 16. The album captures the equally melodic and hard punk essence of their hit song The Beachland Ballroom but offers the band in a new light, with frontman Joe Talbot singing all his feelings instead of talking or shouting them out.  

While that’s typical for most bands, IDLES aren’t like most bands. I often write about their similarities with British punk-rockers Yard Act because both bands are known for fast-paced, angry, emotional talk-singing. That’s not to say TANGK doesn’t maintain the energetic spirit of their past work— their pivot to incorporating more melodic singing adds to their lyrical impact.  

TANGK is about overcoming grief and holding onto the love that’s in reach—even seeking to bring in more. The album is covered in gratitude, and it’s the perfect culmination of Talbot’s enthusiasm, targeting lyricism and guitarist Mark Bowen, who has a beckoning fascination with production.  

IDLES "TANGK" album cover
IDLES’ TANGK album cover

Attending an IDLES show is an experience, not just a concert. Talbot’s face is beet red as he quickly flows through punchy lines, sweat streaming down his face as he swings his microphone around during quick interludes. Talbot gives his soul to IDLES performances, as does everyone else in the band—but they also give themselves to the music.  

I’ve listened to TANGK in its entirety about 15 times as I write this. It’s the most approachable IDLES album to date and will draw in new listeners who may not have jived with their overt punkness before. The band uses more piano, soft rhythms and puts Talbot’s vocal capabilities on full display, as in songs like A Gospel. But the band also knows how to get you up on your feet.  

In songs like Dancer, IDLES tune into dance-rock with clattering bass riffs and the use of synth. A collaboration with LCD Soundsystem, the song speaks to the band’s newest mantra: “I give myself to you/As long as you move on the floor.”  

Hands down the best song on the album is Grace. It weirdly reminds me of U2’S With or Without You, and I mean that in the best way possible. I think it’s because of the slow progressions throughout the song, drumbeats layering the pace, and soft humming vocals. IDLES Grace is certainly more intriguing, with crisp production, and brooding instrumentation. And Talbot says love is the thing!  

Give me grace / Give me light / Hold me up as I flight / Make me safe / Away from harm / Please caress my swollen heart / Make me pure 

IDLES also sprinkle bits of humor throughout the album. While it may not have been intentional, Hall & Oates came at a comically perfect time—their names in the news recently with Daryl Hall suing John Oates over a proposed sale of his share of their Hall and Oates partnership. It’s a gritty, punchy tune about the beauty and love of friendship. Kinda ironic.  

Touching on themes of love, friendship, gratitude and passion, IDLES bring the energy and relationship with their fans to TANGK as well. IDLES fans are ones who care about music, who care about feeling emotions in every way possible. The music is so expressive that it speaks for itself.  

“There’s no bullshit in our crowd, no lack of lucidity,” Talbot said in a press release for the album. “I wanted to bring that to a record. I’ve got more strength in me than I ever have, and it comes from love.” 

Love has become a recurring theme for punk and rock groups, such as Yard Act and their latest album Where’s My Utopia?. 

It’s refreshing—because that’s what life is all about, right? Displaying love doesn’t always have to be all sappy or lovey-dovey. Love is experienced through hardship, grief, maturity and relationships of all kinds. There’s something quite punk and radical about putting love at the forefront of all the bullsh*t. 

IDLES allows listeners to shout their feelings at the top of their lungs. And while I’ve been a fan of the band, TANGK is an album that I will go back to often and listen to for pure enjoyment. It’s lyrically dynamic yet so simple I can find myself in the songs easily. And Talbot’s voice is lovely, he needs to sing more!  

After TANGK’s release, IDLES hit the road for a U.K. tour and then will come to U.S. in September, with a Chicago show on Sept. 18.  

Start with IDLES’ song Gift Horse, as it highlights their high energy and Talbot’s knack for lyrical soul. Then, listen to Grace right after.  

Pay attention to how the songs are on opposite sides of the sonic spectrum. The differences display the band’s versatility and dynamism, and interest in creating outside the box.  

Kendall Polidori is The RockhoundLuckbox‘s resident rock music critic. Follow her reviews on Instagram and Twitter. @rockhoundlb