Album Review: IDLES - 'Joy As an Act of Resistance'
Before we go any further, can we agree that IDLES are the finest rock band active around today? Since the release of their debut album Brutalism last year, the band's popularity has simply soared. Thanks to the AF Gang, they have one of the most dedicated groups of fans in the country. Their self conscious punk music is truly representative of the generation we find ourselves in today. In an age where guitar music is being pushed to the sidelines in terms of social commentary, IDLES fly their flag unabashedly and unashamedly in the face of this awful patriarchal society this world has sadly adapted to. For anyone who is not the well groomed, Love Island-addicted, toxic normality, Joy As an Act of Resistance has to be something you indulge in. No hyperbole aside, this could be one of the most important releases for guitar music in over ten years.
The album opens with "Colossus", a two parter, one half an ominous clang soundtracking the contemplation of the past mistakes and the other a minute long celebration of what makes you you. The celebration of being yourself is one of the main themes of the record, the album is the musical equivalent of tearing open your own ribcage and celebrating your own insides. Every song is brutal in its honesty, aggressive in its positivity and pulls no punches in whatever subject it tackles. Musically, it's a lot more melodic than their debut- major keys feature in nearly half the songs, but don't let that fool you. This album still packs a punch. "NFAMWAP" is as hard hitting as anything on the debut, "I'm Scum" is a whirlwind of old school post-punk and, progressing from "Brutalism", "June" is a beautiful, fractured ode to the still born child of singer Joe Talbot. When he sings the refrain of "baby shoes for sale/ never worn" you can feel every aspect of the pain he's been through. Which is why songs like "Samaritans" and "Danny Nedelko" are so important. Despite all the pain that life can throw at you, there is kindness in the world that you can use and harness to elevate you into a better place. IDLES have made the most relevent album of the 2010's. Now, where the fuck can they go from here?
Words by James Kitchen