Over the last few years, IDLES have grown to become one of the most beloved punk outfits working the UK scene today. Their debut album 'Brutalism' showcased them as a distinctive and furious addition to the landscape, while its follow up 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' brought enormous acclaim and praise their way, cementing their position as a thoroughly exciting group. But when it came to following up that record, they had a choice to either pursue the driven and blistering energy of their former selves or continue to grow into something more abstract. With their 2020 effort 'Ultra Mono', they went with the former, but for 'CRAWLER', they are an entirely different beast.
The difference in intensity and drive between this and 'Ultra Mono' is night and day. While their last release was a ferocious blend of hard-hitting riffs and slogan-focused lyrics, 'CRAWLER' sees them hone in on the dark and atmospheric energy they have seldom explored in the past, but never to this extent. It almost feels like 'Ultra Mono' was the pallet cleanser they needed to get all the aggression out of their system, so they could clear their minds and deliver something far more interesting and inventive. A full-length that harks back to the vivid and cinematic imagery that allowed them to stand out in the first place.
IDLES fans may not take to this new direction instantly, but 'CRAWLER' is a brave and captivating step forward for the band. It shows that even groups whose tracks and lyrics are analysed under a microscope by the media can take unusual strides to remain relevant and keep us on tenter hooks throughout.