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Ultra Mono Image
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critic Reviews What's this?

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

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  • Summary: The third full-length release for the British punk rock band features contributions from Kenny Beats.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Sep 25, 2020
    85
    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. What is more, the band clearly believes in every word Talbot says. That authenticity and openness keep the band as magnetic as ever on its newest record.
  2. 80
    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.
  3. Sep 21, 2020
    80
    No gripes here as IDLES deliver their most consistent album to date with a handful of their most rough-cut diamonds sparkling through.
  4. 80
    It’s smart: acerbic and politically charged in its bleakness.
  5. Sep 24, 2020
    70
    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.
  6. Sep 25, 2020
    70
    IDLES are evolving and learning how to create change through a model most accepting. 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.
  7. Sep 21, 2020
    30
    Unfortunately, most of it sounds like Jason Williamson jogged into a pillar box. The guest musicians include David Yow and Jamie Cullum, a VIP list that draws attention to IDLES' own inadequacy. IDLES' by-numbers rock plod has none of the sensitive jazz swing of The Jesus Lizard nor can it match the unhinged ferocity of Cullum at his most feral. ... Three albums in and the hype has died down. The ideas are drying up. The lack of substance is wholly exposed.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Oct 2, 2020
    10
    Ultra Mono has disappointed some folks, and I get why. This album is IDLES distilling themselves into their most concentrated form to date.Ultra Mono has disappointed some folks, and I get why. This album is IDLES distilling themselves into their most concentrated form to date. They've jettisoned everything they could, the dross has been skimmed off. And there are many fans and reviewers who have discovered that things they liked most about IDLES have ended up on the slagheap. That has to hurt.

    It's a visceral, ineffable thing for the most part, and folks are thus unable to put it into words, and that's why we see feeble pokes at lyrics and songwriting. It's why we see bizarre pokes at the album's immediacy.

    From the beginning of War, where we hear a guitar being plugged into an amp, to the first word, "WHACHING!" we are shown that this is going to be album that's intended to be like a comic book--immediate, visual, unambiguous. Not a work of literary fiction, not even a graphic novel. There is nothing ambiguous, nothing nuanced. Primary colors. Now, there's elements of pop surrealism, as with the insanely inventive and evocative images of Mr Motivator, but nothing subtle. This is intentional.

    Most criticism of Ultra Mono should remind every casual IDLES listener with Stendhal Syndrome, "did you see that painting what Rothko did? Looks like it was painted by a two year old kid." This is because most criticism fails to accept that the work is as the band wants it to be. Most critics are basically taking a Rothko work and evaluating it as they would a work by Caravaggio. It makes these reviewers look out-of-touch and pathetic.

    COVID has messed with this album as well--if this was a regular year, people would have been seeing IDLES perform many of these songs live already, and to pretend that IDLES albums stand on their own, and don't gain a lot of their power from live performances and the strength of community in the audience, misses essential parts of what makes IDLES IDLES.
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  2. Sep 25, 2020
    10
    This is Idles’ best album so far. It’s just what 2020 needs. Thank you Idles.
  3. KB-
    Sep 25, 2020
    10
    The album is bold, joe performance is extraordinary, and the guitar work plays more than wonderful, the album is consistent and is about oneThe album is bold, joe performance is extraordinary, and the guitar work plays more than wonderful, the album is consistent and is about one weight, and the production is very good , the melodies are complex, and this is what I liked about it very much Expand
  4. Sep 25, 2020
    7
    KLANG KLANG The new IDLES record is here! A harsh, compressed, high octane sound pallet that feels akin to sitting in the back of a car withKLANG KLANG The new IDLES record is here! A harsh, compressed, high octane sound pallet that feels akin to sitting in the back of a car with blaring subwoofers. The sheer amount of power this record put out you’d think you need to plug it into an outlet before listening. Tracks like WAR, Kill Them with Kindness, Grounds and A Hymn are the records shining moments. When this a high point, it feels like a loving choke slam of sound that brings you back for a second beating.

    Conversely, parts of the record fall short for me due to poor vocal mixing and delivery. Tracks like The Lover and reig
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  5. Sep 25, 2020
    6
    Although it is by far their worst record to date, some interesting ideas, good hooks and inspired performances are to be found. what's trulyAlthough it is by far their worst record to date, some interesting ideas, good hooks and inspired performances are to be found. what's truly disappointing is that in less than 2 years, idles have become what their critics always (wrongfully) panned them to be - slogan thumping few-trick ponies with no real songwriting skills nor lyrical nuance. Expand
  6. Sep 30, 2020
    6
    I've been waiting for this one. i thought hymn is an amazing proof that idles might be rem of the 20's.
    well, actually they're not. yet,
    I've been waiting for this one. i thought hymn is an amazing proof that idles might be rem of the 20's.
    well, actually they're not. yet, maybe.
    i still can't understand what poundland's porcelain shattered on the floor brings in to the chasm, and as long as they'll represent that shallow stance, that'll only be a lot of good sound wasted.
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  7. Sep 29, 2020
    4
    I give it 4 - I for Reigns, 1 for A Hymn, 1 for Warren Ellis, 1 for Jamie Callum. Hugely disappointing album.

See all 12 User Reviews