IDLES: Crawler – Album – 2021 – Partisan Records
Genre: Alternative, Post-Something
About the making of the album:
One night, IDLES frontman Joe Talbot watched from the driver’s seat of his car as a motorcyclist sped past him on the highway at nearly 130 miles per hour (about 209 kph).
The driver was inches away from crashing into Talbot’s car. At this unique moment, when the fragility of life and death was so blatantly on display, Talbot began to reflect on his own life’s journey and to record the defining moments in it, both literally and figuratively.
„I was in a car accident,“ he says. „Being an addict is part of what I was for years. Seeing this motorcyclist felt like the beginning of a new story – a reflection on addiction in a forgiving, empathetic and compassionate way. Giving himself the space to breathe and forgive, but also taking responsibility for your actions.
These forks in the proverbial road of life and the consequences of choosing the right path is forming the narrative backbone of „CRAWLER“, the fourth IDLES album in 4 years and the follow-up to 2020’s „Ultra Mono“, the British band’s first #1 album. If „Ultra Mono“ was, in guitarist Mark Bowen’s words, „a kind of caricature of our identity that helped us see it with all its flaws,“ „CRAWLER“ is an album of reflection and healing in the midst of a global pandemic that is straining the planet’s collective mental and physical health to the breaking point.
Talbot says, „We want people who have experienced trauma, heartbreak, and loss to feel like they are not alone. This album shows the ugly side of where these things come from, but also how it’s possible to regain joy from these experiences.“ He adds, „Before his assassination, Trotsky knew that Stalin’s men were coming to kill him. He knew he was going to die.
What did he do? After watching his wife in the garden, he wrote in his diary: ‚Despite everything, life is beautiful‘. A week later he gets an ice pick in the head. He was just happy to sit in his garden and watch the person he loved most do what she loved. I think that’s a beautiful thing.“ For Talbot, ‚CRAWLER‘ is like his character in the gritty warmth of his addiction – a crawler, precisely, a night crawler, someone on his knees, someone praying, someone surviving. The lack of character in the situation. The weight of the world that forces you into the dust. All of that is a ‚crawler‘.“
But enough talk for now. First check out the new video on KEXP, incl. the interview:
Video: IDLES Live on KEXP
About some tracks:
Indeed, these stories on „CRAWLER“ range from literal car crashes (the gritty, suspenseful opener „MTT 420 RR,“ „Car Crash“) to dancing with random Spanish men in futile late-night attempts to keep the party going at the club in the middle of nowhere („When the Lights Come On“), to defiant tales of hard work, setting goals, and how to make them happen no matter how hopeless they may seem („Crawl! „, „The Beachland Ballroom,“ an honest soul song with great, poignant vocals from Talbot).
Talbot remarks, „With this album, I tried to tell more stories than ever before and be more poetic, which I think is more sincere in a more tongue-in-cheek way than trying to be as gruff and straightforward as possible.“ Bowen continues to say that this new varied palette gives the album the feel of a true collective journey, „I thought it was important to put a lot of songs in the first half of the album that deal directly with trauma and immediate reactions to it. Then later on there‘ s the more heavy stuff – namely the realization and dealing with it.“
„One of the most important things about writing this album was that we wanted to experiment and evolve our songwriting,“ Bowen says. “ We had to think about how we were going to follow up every time we did that. A really important aspect of our identity as a band is humour and not taking ourselves too seriously. Of course we deal with serious issues, but often with a twinkle in our eye.
These stories are brought to life through what is by far IDLES‘ most emotional music to date, recorded under the supervision of producer Kenny Beats (Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs). And of course, there are plenty of moments that will cause absolute mayhem in a packed concert hall in the fall of 2021, like the distorted glam rock of „The Wheel,“ the 30-second grindcore slap to the head by the track „Wizz,“ and the awkward, all-pulverizing bass and drum groove of „The New Sensation.“
But there are also fresh sonic sketches and experiments with which IDLES enter previously uncharted territory, such as the marching band anthem „Stockholm Syndrome“ and „Progress,“ both of which serve as a kind of „mantra of knowledge“ that soothes body and mind in a way that few IDLES songs have done before.
Bowen, who co-produced the record with Beats, says, „Kenny kept asking questions, ‚What’s a crawler?‘ ‚Why are you doing this?‘ He verified things by asking these questions, and so we had to get our ideas straight and figure out how to explain it in a way that made sense. When Kenny and I talk about music, we tend to look at it from a hip-hop or electronic perspective. The drums are the most important thing. The most important thing because it has to bang and carry away.
Often I have doubts about the more isolated, esoteric songs. Kenny would say, ‚Why are we recording this again? Let’s just go with the demo. The demo has the right feeling. You don’t need anything else here.'“
„I don’t really think of us as a ‚rock band‘ and working with Kenny has freed us from genre pigeonholing,“ Talbot enthuses. „With this album, we overcame our egos with Kenny’s humble nature and willingness to learn. His passion to make the best song possible is boundless. And it was never about the best ‚rock‘ song, it was about the best possible song ever, no matter what song we had just sketched out that day. It’s something we’ve always wanted.“
He continues, „It was that stubborn songwriting method that made it all happen. Reflect. Telling your own story. And not try to tell everyone else’s story. I’m not trying to fix the world – I’m just talking about how I fix my own.“
The Bottom Line:
Crawler by IDLES is a proverbial mega album. „When the world is falling apart around you, and you’re lying in the dirt with bloody knees, when you’ve lost everything and everyone – IDLES will always be there, playing for you. And you can shout out your frustration, your despair, your hatred. Until the lights go out forever,” I recently wrote on Instagram. In other words: Crawler is an album that appears perhaps only once in a decade, an album where everything is just right: Arrangements, production, intimate lyrics, exquisite instrumental work, and a mix that could hardly be better (though the fact that I had to buy the native 24.96 version to review it is a very bad joke of Pias).
Again about the lyrics and the arrangements: the lyrics are bone-headed and you can take them and apply them to any shitty situation in your life. The choice of words, the puns are ambiguous, you actually have to question them all the time – and that gives the whole thing an intellectual edge. On the other hand, the sound, the arrangements, the vocals, are evil, angry, critical like nothing else I’ve heard in the last two years. But IDLES never leave you alone in the desert, they eventually catch you when you are in danger of falling and falling, falling, falling.
IDLES are really good people, not noble, no, that‘ not – but honest. They have a message, stand for something, have an opinion – yes, I know, sounds strange… Anyway, they are making really cool sound. Never, never, Never in my life I have believed that IDLES could ever convince me completely.
Crawler is the definitive soundtrack to these dark times, to this never ending pandemic threat, IDLES are here for you if you want to scream out your frustrations with them – Always…
Facts about the album
Label: Partisan Records
Release Date: November 12, 2021
Genre: Alternative and Indie
14 Tracks – 46m 28s
Available at Qobuzin Hi-res
24-bit / 96 kHz stereo
Studio 1 (High End):
- 2 x System Audio SA Mantra 50 (front)
- 1x System Audio SA Mantra 10 AV (center)
- 2x System Audio SA Legend 5 (rear)
- 1 x System Audio Saxo 10 (subwoofer)
- 4 x Onkyo SKH-410 (B) (Dolby Atmos)
- Auralic Altair (audio streaming client with max. 32 bit / 384 kHz)
- NVIDIA Shield Pro with Plex, Kodi (max 192 kHz for Audio, Tidal (MQA Streaming Client)
- AppleTV 4K (Streaming Client) Dolby Atmos, HDR, Dolby Vision
- Amazon Cube 4K (Streaming Client) Dolby Atmos (restricted), HDR, Dolby Vision
- Panasonic DP-UB9004 (4K UHD Player) Dolby Atmos, HDR, Dolby Vision
- Oppo UDP-203 (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player) Dolby Atmos, HDR, Dolby Vision
- Yamaha CX-A5100 (Preamp) 4K, Dolby Atmos, Hi-res
- Yamaha MX-A5000 (Power Amp)
- Sony KD-55A1 (TV) 4K OLED, HDR, Dolby Vision
Studio 2 (Near Field): Studio 3 (Consumer):
Studio 2 (Near Field):
Studio 3 (Consumer):