It’s easy to throw around superlatives. I could sit here now typing away all the words under the sun to highlight the power and prowess of the second record from Bristol-grown band IDLES Joy as an Act of Resistance and you could either choose to accept them or ignore them.
So instead, while we will be casting out our superlative-baited hooks for you to munch on, please, do one thing for us and listen to this album. Trust us, this will be the best thing you’ll do this weekend.
With our PSA done with, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what is easily one of the best records of the year – fact.
A fast and furious ‘fuck you’ is on the way as soon as the first pounding notes of ‘Colossus’ punches through your speakers. Vibrant and with the more cutting elements of the song, like the dreadful and deliberate slow build, are carefully considered and readily sharpened. The thought that IDLES are another punk band is soon slashed to pieces.
‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’ and ‘I’m Scum’ continue the theme of an intense but intellectualised punk ethos punctuated with clever lyricism and expert song-writing craftmanship. The thoughtful man’s warcry IDLES are giving a whole host of disillusioned young men and women a mantra to live their life by.
Some of the topics Joe Talbot and Co. take on may be of the buzzword variety, but they approach them with a genuine dog in the fight, an earnest axe to grind, and with every track that axe glints a little sharper. One of these touchpoints, as well as Brexit, social class issues, is immigration.
Expertly crafted they demonstrate the nonsense of anti-immigration rhetoric on their quality song ‘Danny Nedeiko’. Named after their Estonian friend, the song is deeply rooted in trying to gain the attention of the working class. The chorus, in particular, rings out like so many classic chants do, with simplicity, truth and poetry.
Another moment of veracity is the slow-burning but genuinely scorching ‘June’ which, with the help of a whole heap of humility, reflects on mental health issues with a delicate touch, as the subject matter turns to Talbot’s own loss at having a stillborn baby. We warn you, however essential it is, it is heart-wrenchingly sad.
Another hot topic sizzled into our brains in an affecting way is on the following track ‘Samaritans’ which dives into the issue of toxic masculinity. It offers not only a loving hand to all men who feel caged by this attitude but also a defiant stance against those willing to use phrases like “grow some balls” to understand the ramifications of callous language.
“This is why you never see your father cry” – ‘Samaritans’, IDLES
IDLES continue to open their hearts and minds on the brilliant ‘Television’ which is a soaring and endorphin-filled terror of a track. Later on ‘Great’ they take potshots at the ridiculous imagination of the Great British ‘patriots’ who “just want their country back”.
The array of topics tackled with sincerity and knowledge is not only promising from a musical point of view, but one hopes from a social point of view. The title of the album is the most poignant in this regard, Joy as an Act of Resistance is the point of the album, the point of the band, and should be the point we are willing to push through the armour of an establishment so dependant on our despair.
On their second record, IDLES have shown that they’re growing, they’re showing off their political and poetic prowess, they are proving themselves on every track and they are, without a doubt, the most exciting band in the country right now.