Model Village

Album: Ultra Mono (2020)
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Songfacts®:

  • Idles frontman Joe Talbot was raised in the cathedral city of Exeter, England. Speaking on the meaning of this marauding song, he said: "I hated growing up in a city that was really a town that was really a fishbowl. I left as soon as I could, only to realize the fishbowl didn't exist... just the fish, and they're everywhere."
  • A model village is a re-creation of a village on a small scale open to the public as a tourist attraction. Here, Talbot reflects on small-minded patriotism by pointing the finger at people he considers have a warped perception of normality. He takes them out of their own town by looking at it like it's a model village.

    Talbot explained to Apple Music he is telling them, "Look how small and insignificant this place is. Don't be so aggressive and defensive about something you don't really understand."
  • Talbot told Mojo magazine the satire of "Model Village" is "me laughing at how stupid this country is, how f---ed America is. That song comes from a place of complete despair."
  • Talbot explained to the BBC that he wrote the song as a reaction to the Brexit referendum result. "That's the metaphor I'm using for England and nationalism," he said. "These are imagined borders people have drawn up, and people that love their country don't know it. You can love some of the people in your country but you don't know 99.9% of the population."
  • Idles released this as the third single from their third album, Ultra Mono. Talbot conceived the title and concepts for the record after reading Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. A guide for day-to-day living, the book stresses the importance of living in the present moment and rising above thoughts of the past or future. "I'd written maybe a little more than half the album and I was overthinking," Talbot told Jaxsta. "I was feeling the pressure of finishing the songs, and then it was like, that's not what this album is about."

    "This album is about self-acceptance in the moment, in the present, in the now," he added. "So I decided if I'm going to do that properly, if I'm going to practice what the album preached, I needed to write the last seven songs in the vocal booth. So I stopped writing and I waited until I got in the studio and I wrote the songs there."
  • Ultra Mono became The Idles' first UK #1 album in September 2020. 15,400 of its first-week total were vinyl sales, making it the fastest-selling vinyl album of 2020.
  • Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry filmed the animated video with his brother Olivier Gondry in collaboration with WePresent, WeTransfer's editorial platform.

    The clip comprises hand-drawn paper shapes filmed by Michel in his Los Angeles studio. He then sent the individual images to his brother in Paris, where they were animated.

    "Olivier and I were excited to work on this because we use completely opposite techniques," Michel explained. "I work with a primitive system of cutting paper and moving it under the lens frame by frame. Olivier then transforms it by morphing, warping and CGI."

    "Basically, in the first part we try to illustrate the lyrics as close as possible, to create the world," he added, "and then in the second half, they go to the moon."
  • The word "village" crops up 31 times in the song.
  • Mojo magazine asked Talbot where a song as angry as "Model Village" came from. "I was livid," he replied. "It's just everything that seems to be happening with politics. You have everyone on the left repeating themselves. Everyone on the right repeating themselves but seemingly growing in numbers by the millions, managing to vote Brexit and for Trump, vote for Boris. And people on the left saying 'democracy isn't working.' What? Because of Brexit! It's just like all these villages repeating cyclical behaviors, and it's never anyone's fault but the other villages, and everyone stupid except for their village. And this isn't working. Capitalism is obviously not working for the poor. It's working beautifully for the billionaires. Can no one see that?"
  • When Talbot wrote this song, he was in a bad place, lashing out at all and sundry. Following therapy, he and the rest of the band took control of their narrative and ditched this song from their set lists. "I don't want to perform 'Model Village' live, because I'm not in that place anymore," he told NME. "I'm not defensive, I'm not angry. I'm not scared anymore, and I was when I wrote that album. There was so much going on around me and I was losing control of our narrative. Instead of being mindful and holding myself accountable, I was fighting."

    "I was in therapy for two years, and it made me realize that I was angry at the wrong people," Talbot added. "The critics weren't the ones that were wrong – I was. It's beautiful, because now I can see Ultra Mono for what it is – an amazing live album, with a few songs where I was really lost."

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