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Tangk - All is Love

A gut-wrenching fifth album from Idles. Tangk has been on repeat for me since its release on the 16th of February 2024. Having personally listened to the album at least forty to fifty times, and in different forms, to experience Tangk to its utmost potential is certainly, in my opinion, with headphones on. Headphones give the most personal, emotional, uplifting experience for the album. Depending on your surroundings, Tangk offers you different vibes; listening in a crowded place, or on public transport can make you feel inspired and motivated. Plugging in while in your room by yourself makes Tangk become such personal listening experience - you can dance, move freely, or lie still on your bed, and the music becomes yours and yours alone. 


The songs of Tangk contradict each other perfectly - the drums are uplifting while the guitar is foggy. It is different to Idles’ previous work as Joe Talbot’s voice appears louder and the guitars quieter. Mixed reviews of the album report that it’s a muted version of what Idles once was. Some of the songs aren’t really done any justice on a low-quality speaker or played quietly, so it is limited in this way. But overall, the new direction is empowering as Tangk offers us sheer authenticity and truth in the face of an ever-changing world.  


Idles have become the distributers of inspiration. Every song on this album pleads, begs, and shows all that is love. Ugly and beautiful, painful, and gracious - it hides nothing. Striking more of a resemblance with the early Idles EPs and tracks such as Slow Savage, Tangk cuts through the shit and tells you exactly how to hear it. This album truly does bare the soul, making fans and new listeners feel tapped into the very vein of what Idles means - that all is love.  


The album kicks off with the haunting broken piano in ‘IDEA 01'. Where Idles have before shoved the door down from the get-go, this song truly shows the gentle strength of new direction taken by the Bristol five. Manipulating shadows of the colossus drums and stretching it to new levels, uplifting with piano and composition that rivals the best songwriters, with a drop of poison that you just cannot shake. “These are the things you lost in the fire”. 


Following up from ‘IDEA 01’ is ‘Gift Horse’ which catches you from falling off the back of a trance you were just in from the first track. Classic Idles. Spins you round with the grooviest hard rock you can find. This addicting hook does not come as a surprise from Idles and it is greatly accepted - you just cannot resist dancing to this song. It feels as though Joe is talking directly to you, preaching words of love and gratitude that push the listener to change their life.  


I must say, the most addicting song has to be ‘POP POP POP'. If you don't have the chance to listen to this album in full, or if you can only listen to one song, I would urge you to listen to this one. It feels like a touch from God, ‘POP POP POP’ beams straight into your soul and makes you simply feel like you cannot get enough. Talbot’s preaching words will stay with you whether you accept it or not. I have to stress also the powerful gravity of this song with headphones in. It practically rips your heart out and doesn't let  you forget it!


“Fredenfrede” (meaning a person who finds pleasure in another person’s good fortune), is the catchiest line/phrase in new music right now, it’s truly unshakable. This song is so clever because it’s all a lie. The beat, the phrase, the melody, the lyrics, they sound uplifting like you want to dance around, but really, they want to crush you, beat you down, make you vulnerable. And it certainly succeeds. At the end you get an echoing tone of words being read making it feel like a prelude to the end track, ‘Monolith’.  


The following track, ‘Roy’, embodies the love that you plead to stay but know is not going to work. Begging and staying strong to love. It fills the hole that has been created by the end of ‘POP POP POP' and drags you to your knees whilst doing so. It tears you down to your bones and forces you to bare your soul as much as Talbot during the course of the album. Beavis, the drummer, is a bass level threat on this track. Drums build you up and threaten to tear you down at any second - “I am never going to die”, and you feel it. The guitars are a knife through the heart, echoing, resembling the pain felt by this song which continues into the next track, ‘A Gospel’.  


Love is central in this album, ‘A Gospel’ exhibits a feeling of letting go. It presents an acceptance of an inevitable loss, which is a stark difference to older Idles songs, such as ‘I’m scum’, which portrays a righteous anger - “Just tell me darling and I will be your past”. Be prepared to shed some tears whilst listening to ‘A Gospel’. You can almost see the love in front of you, the romanticism of a dangerous but beautiful surrender. You are broken after this song, but yet again, Idles find a way to take that and lift you up to the highest hights. It empowers you with the feeling you can get through it, that you can survive. ‘Dancer’ is the perfect follow up to this track – a clean slate. 


‘Dancer’ truly is what the name suggests - I cannot wait to hear this one live! The guitar strums are visceral, if I close my eyes I can see the guitarists crowd surfing, smell the sweat, and feel the heat of this track. I’ve seen a few people talk about Tangk’s purpose being played live. The band is well known for live performance, personally I’ve seen them four times and they are the best band I’ve seen live. The new songs will take the already incredible Idles live show experience and turn it into the best journey you’ve ever been taken on.  The end of ‘Dancer’ is brilliant, you expect it to be over, but it adds the most energetic lyrics, “cut waves, make change, cut circles in my cage”. 


‘Grace’ then stands alone as a fighter against the self and the state, embodying what Idles is now and always has been. I can see why the band chose this as one of the singles released before the album. Grace is pleading to be safe, to be loved; it is showing us that we can rely on people, we can be inspired by people, most importantly, it shows us that seemingly ‘ordinary’ people will be the ones to give us love and give us inspiration, “No god no king”. “Love is the fing” is the core message of this album, love is beautiful, love is important, and a lot of the time overlooked. This album brings back that message, that maybe it’s not money or power that make people successful, but love. [EH3] 


‘Hall & Oates’ is old Idles in a new form, refreshing for the fans of the heavier stuff, but still with the impeccable creativity from the fourth and fifth albums. It channels an absolute energy that makes you get up and dance or put everything you have into a piece of work – all-encompassing motivation. 


In ‘Jungle’, I cannot stress enough how drummer Jon Beavis holds the track together. I haven’t seen a lot of talk about the drums, and I think Beavis is overlooked. The drums carry the whole album, like the locomotive of a train that doesn’t stop. Beavis is making a forty-minute album feel like ten. 


‘Gratitude’ is the hope of love, it is a reminder that you have to keep working, that you don’t have to be the best in the room, but you should work the hardest. That even if you have nothing, you have this, “Ripped up cuticles” -you can feel the pain of this in your fingers. A second of silence leads the way into a hard breakdown of guitars and drums that feels almost genius. ‘Gratitude' would simply be incredible to listen to live! 


Finally, the album concludes with the most heart-breaking/heart-making song, ‘Monolith’. Talbot sings straight into your soul, somehow ripping out every emotion you’ve ever felt and re-filling it with a loveless dread, finishing off with the hope of smooth saxophone which shocks but is absolutely welcome. I can really imagine ‘Monolith' live, a sweaty, packed gig that has wiped you out yet given you immense energy. The beauty and pain of it is everything. 


I leave this album feeling full of hope and love, and amazement at all things Idles. The intelligence of a forty-minute album is impactful and I am left only wanting more. An important point to make is that you cannot mistake this music with anger. Instead, it encompasses love, hard work, and passion for it all; Idles is joy from the connections it creates and explores. Tangk borders on philosophical teaching to my ears, pleading to live a life of love and gratitude, to practice empathy, and accept the pain you’ve been dealt, all while Tangk still holds the somewhat comedic lyricism from previous work.


“Love is the fing”.     


Words by Livia Halawin (she/her)


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