Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Album Review: IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance

Joy as an Act of Resistance
***and1/2 out of *****

The English group IDLES second release Joy as an Act of Resistance follows up their breakthrough 2017's Brutalism with a mix of emotions, societal topics and tensions/releases in extremely intriguing fashion. The Bristol five piece (Joe Talbot Adam Devonshire Mark Bowen Lee Kiernan Jon Beavis) take on racism, spiritual emptiness and fury with thoughtful angular songs which veer more towards post-punk and art rock.

Opener "Colossus" is a good example of the band willing to through out the standard punk playbook and experiment. The track begins with a slow burn as lyrics about catholic guilt, and the shadow of the father sun and holy ghost all weigh heavy until the song literally stops. Then, a barnstorming slamming closure drives the number to it's completion. Willingness to break out of the two plus minutes sing a longs separates IDLES from other punk bands.

The album is bookend by experimental sounds as "Rottweiler" plays with loops feedback and builds. "Never Fight A Man With A Perm" goes after toxic masculinity with the rock hard screams of "Concrete to Leather" before the rolling bass and drum led "I'm Scum" plainly states that we don't need a new James Bond. Those bass and drums keep pumping while buzz guitars swarm like hornets on "Danny Nedelko" which clearly spells out how hate takes root and while exuberantly calling for unity and one of the best tracks on the solid album.

"Love Song" deals with modern relationships and carrying a watermelon, which when paired with the groups Solomon Burke cover of "Cry To Me" proves the band are fans of Dirty Dancing but the lighthearted feel is not very prevalent on the record. "June" is an ominous thudding depressing look at one of life's hardest losses, lead singer Joseph Talbot's death of a daughter during childbirth. It is a topic many other bands would never approach, or would do so with fury and anger while IDLES meditate on it in discomfiting fashion successfully.

Father sons and male roles/emotions are dealt with directly again on "Samaritans" which starts dull before a mid song guitar break and a scream of "I kissed a boy and I liked it" propels the song to new social and sonic levels. The main truth of everything IDLES are singing about on this record can be found in "Television" where Talbot spits out the simple but often disregarded mantra "Love yourself, love yourself".

All of the best punk makes you think and Joy as an Act of Resistance joins those ranks, while moving more into wide vistas which sadly punk can be limited to. IDLES are fast making a name as must hear for fans of adventurous rock and roll of any genre.
Support the band, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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