Today’s Song: IDLES Break Free from the Reins on “Gift Horse”

IDLES © Daniel Topete
IDLES © Daniel Topete
Thrashing free from the gloom of day-to-day mundanity, IDLES gift a wake-up headbanger on “Gift Horse,” the third single preceding their upcoming LP ‘TANGK.’
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Stream: “Gift Horse” – IDLES

IDLES are no stranger to rage room music.

Ever since the breakout success of their sophomore project, Joy as an Act of Resistance., punk heads continue to gravitate toward a sound that inspires dreamy-eyed progressivism, unbridled confidence, and a desire for destruction all in one. Pick any song, and at the two-minute mark, the average listener will find themselves euphoric, questioning societal standards, or stomping out the hood of a car – or all three.

The British quartet have explored different styles (and levels of composure) across their recent projects, this staying true in regard to their singles ahead of their upcoming LP, TANGK. Booty-shaker “Dancer” simmers the revelry to a nice medium-high while “Grace” sees Talbot praising love’s ultimacy in a hypnotically meditative state. While welcome changes of pace, IDLES can only stay cool and collected for so long.


Along came their third single, “Gift Horse.” A celebration of love, overwhelming emotion, and everything orderly and disorderly that gives the world color, the band brings the noise for anyone needing a jump to their engine.

Released on Jan. 15, the track is laced with IDLES’ raw grit and catalytic intention. A pulsing bassline, unsteady hats, boom-bap drums and interjectory string noise pave the way for Talbot’s husky voice to lead the surge:

Sinew exploding from chrome hooves
Where we’re going? We don’t need glue
Can he run in a tutu?
He looks a little long in the gold tooth

The horse could be anything. It could be a rugby team ready to take souls or an ill person looking to make the damn most of what’s left. It could be a queer person taking to the streets in pride colors galore or a literal racehorse, freshly escaped from its pen and looking to run wild.

When the sudden drum fill leads to piercing riffs and Talbot’s electrifying refrain – “LOOK AT HIM GOOOOOO!” – the listener stops caring about what they’re rooting for. The horse is charging forward and offering rides, not to be taken down by anyone or anything.

IDLES © Daniel Topete
IDLES © Daniel Topete

My steed sees how dreams are made
He’s my dream like I just got paid
No joy ride fee, it’s free today
We don’t care what the people say

IDLES are romanticizing the free spirit.

Under the layers of mania is an invitation to let loose and find paradise, even if for a moment. While many of the outfit’s popular tracks are calls to be pissed at unjust establishments and social norms, “Gift Horse” is a refreshing reminder that worldview triumphs over circumstances. It’s a revitalizing spin that makes one appreciate whatever saturates the mundane and makes life worth living, whether it be a significant other or something funny that happened at work.



IDLES’ accompanying music video turns the grueling weekday into an absolute sideshow.

A supermarket finds its cashier dead-eyed while dozens of surrealistic shoppers – tacky influencers, missionaries, and shelf-browsers wearing shirts reading “everything hurts and I’m dying” – devolve into surrealism, smiling ear to ear amid the chaos. If you want to see guitarist Mark Bowen ride a mechanical bull in a dress, look no further.

“Gift Horse” exemplifies IDLES’ songwriting at its most erratic and endearing, and with the preceding singles offering no sense of sonic uniformity, listeners can expect a deliciously unpredictable experience once TANGK is released across all streaming services on Feb. 16.

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Stream: “Gift Horse” – IDLES

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