Idles - 'Samaritans'
Idles tackle gender roles, masculinity and high male suicide rates with ‘Samaritans’, the third song released ahead of their highly anticipated second album, Joy as an Act of Resistance.
‘Samaritans’ appears to be a follow up to the line ‘He punched himself in the face/To prove he wasn’t gay’ in the song ‘Exeter’ on their critically acclaimed first album Brutalism. Lead vocalist Joe Talbot questions the role of men in modern society and how the ‘mask of masculinity’ can be detrimental: ‘Man up/…/Don’t cry/…/Grow some balls’. The expectations of men throughout history can be dangerous as he also sings that ‘This is why you never see your father cry‘. Therefore, ‘Samaritans’ is one of Idles most important and powerful songs written. It is an anthem for equal rights, not being afraid to seek help and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
The instrumentation is standard Idles. Dissonant, wailing and aggressive guitar riffs on top of a driving drum beat. It’s almost like The Strokes Is This It on a bad acid trip. The guitar break in the middle of the song is reminiscent of John Frusciante era Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s melodic tremolo picking could have easily been played on a song off Californication or By the Way. This doesn’t last too long, however, as it returns to what we all love and know as Joe Talbot screams ‘I kissed a boy and I liked it’ with ferocious animosity and the band head into a full frontal sonic attack.
Whilst it may not have the same instantaneous impact that ‘Well Done’ had, ‘Samaritans’ is a brilliant song that gets better with repeated listens. Even if you’re not a big fan of Idles, I’m positive even the most casual of music listeners can appreciate the song and its meaning.
Words by Matthew Brocklehurst