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Every Idles Album Ranked Worst to Best

IDLES is a bit of a controversial act in the post-punk scene. Some lambast them for being too preachy. Some dislike them because their political views are too “basic.” Some can’t be bothered by all of that discourse and would rather just appreciate an exciting band that actually seems interested in crafting bullet-proof soundscapes. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, we highly doubt anyone will be upset that we’re ranking their entire studio output of full-length records, so let’s get to it.

5. Crawler (2021)

While IDLES’ fourth album is certainly not devoid of ambition, much of the experimentation that defines the record struggles to stand on two legs. On the aptly titled effort, the band seems too timid to fully explore their newfound sonic ambitions and too stubborn to completely abandon their well-worn style. This results in a discontented soundscape that is only consistent in its wavering. It’s kind of like when you spent four years of college darting between majors only to land an Associate of Arts degree; it was an important experience for your overall growth, but ultimately not your most impressive asset.

Play It Again: “Car Crash”
Skip It: Yes, please

4. Ultra Mono (2020)

When crafting Ultra Mono, lead singer Joe Talbot wanted to present an overblown caricature of the band. A sort of purge of the most extreme conceptions and expectations of a punk outfit whose star was rapidly on the rise. For the most part, it shreds, but part of this cleansing process laid bare some of the group’s worst tendencies. The over-simplified politics on tracks like “Grounds” and the self-admitted classist undertones of “Model Village” helped to mark the band’s third full-length as one of their clumsiest. By attempting to lean hard into the lore the group had built by this point, they effectively undercut the humanity they had cultivated over their previous two records.

Play It Again: “Kill Them With Kindness”
Skip It: “Model Village”

3. Brutalism (2017)

Yeah, here we go. Right smack dab in the middle. A lot of you will argue that this is their best record, and we won’t blame you for that erroneous thought process. Brutalism is a front-to-back rager that helped solidify the band’s aesthetic while giving their live show the ammo it needed to catapult them into the proverbial stratosphere. Still, some of the group’s most uncomfortable subject matter exists within the runtime as Talbot wrestles with sobriety and his own toxic traits. While it certainly doesn’t undercut the record’s thematic importance, it can make for a tough listen at times.

Play It Again: “Well Done”
Skip It: “1049 Gotho”

2. Joy As An Act of Resistance (2018)

This album was such a breakthrough that it pretty much soundtracked an entire season of “Peaky Blinders.” Even though that show influenced some of your friend’s shittiest personality quirks and haircuts, it was still a pretty big accomplishment for a band to be featured within the series’ jarring modern score. There was a good reason for the sudden adoration. “Joy As An Act Of Resistance” is a nearly perfect record. Blending Stooges era punk rock with modern lyricism and an unrelenting sequence, the LP essentially cemented IDLES as a household name. Had the fat been trimmed just a bit, it would be unimpeachable.

Play It Again: “Television”
Skip It: “June” (but only because you’ve cried enough this week)

1. Tangk (2024)

No doubt everyone in the comments is going to have something to say about this one taking the top spot. Here’s the thing, though: Everyone knows that the people who are actively sending us death threats haven’t bothered to listen to the album. ‘Tangk’ is simultaneously the band’s most ambitious album and IDLES in their purest form. This is the pinnacle to which every other album has been building. Some will argue its instant success is due to its poppier sensibility and nothing more, to which we ask: “What pop music has ever sounded this chaotic and subversive?” Seriously, grow up.

Play It Again: It’s one of those ‘listen to the whole thing’ albums
Skip It: You would, you contrarian prick.