“We’re trying to avoid sounding like a conventional guitar band… Our goal has always been to expand what guitars can do”: Idles’ radical guitar duo dissect their “violent, dark tones” and explain why modeling is “wack”

IDLES's Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan [right]
(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

Rising from the Bristol post-punk scene with 2017’s Brutalism, Idles momentarily seemed like route-one firebrands, taking on toxic masculinity, a crumbling NHS and the gamed class system over chippy beats and jawbreaker riffs. 

But if nobody expected the broadened horizons of 2021’s Crawler – a fourth album that saw frontman Joe Talbot stop rabble-rousing to actually sing, while the band pinballed between glam, soul and brooding electronica – then this year’s Tangk is an even bolder leap, putting acres of distance between Idles and their noisenik roots.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Henry Yates

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written about music for titles including The Guardian, Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a talking head on Times Radio and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl and many more. As a guitarist with three decades' experience, he mostly plays a Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul.

With contributions from