British IDLES complicate punk
Following off of the success of their 2017 release Brutalism, post-punk act IDLES have returned for their second LP. The Bristol, England group formed in 2012, released a few EPs before their first LP and were deemed as “one of the most exciting British bands right now,” by one publication.
Now with their 2018 release, Joy As An Act of Resistance, IDLES have stuck to their post-punk roots–even as much as they may hate that label. The album opens up with “Colossus.” The track is a five-plus minute epic that takes the listener on many different routes throughout. There are industrial undertones on the first half as singer Joe Talbot builds up what appears to be a climax, but hints the song is just beginning as he screams “it goes and it goes and it goes,” as deep bass tones and screeching guitars howl under his vocals. After the four-minute mark, the song becomes a straight up punk track. The background vocals make the song as catchy as it really can be as Talbot screeches confrontational lyrics like “I put homophobes in coffins.” Truly, this is an epic first track and almost overwhelming when entering the rest of the album.
The album isn’t completely this clash of noise, commotion and complex composition. “I’m Scum” is sort of a come down from “Colossus” and it’s needed. It’s self-deprecating, yet catchy. The bass of Adam Devonshire is the backbone of the track while the fun guitars of Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan screech behind the chorus proclaiming Talbot’s scum like characteristics.
“Love Song” is… well, not the typical love song. The guitar work is more haunting than it is flattering. That is the point though as Talbot criticizes “modern love” by poking fun at card buying, bar hopping and more. It is one of the more repetitive tracks, at least in the chorus, but it does its job fine as a parody of the typical love song.
The themes on this record are very topical and modern. “Danny Nedelko” and “Great” touch on the issues of immigration. Talbot tackles the positives that have come to his life from the immigrants he knows. “Samaritans” touches on the idea of toxic masculinity. He calls masculinity a literal mask that blinds vision and keeps men from their emotions. “Television” is one of the more uplifting tracks, even though it is very anti-television. It encourages to love yourself and go outside. “Great” follows this optimism with one of the catchier tracks on Joy As An Act of Resistance.
“Rottweiler” starts as a lot of the other punk-based tracks do on the album; however, like “Colossus” this is one of those five minute IDLES songs. Around the two minute mark, there is an interlude that slows the punk-based track down to almost a post-hardcore style breakdown, yet with more of the noise rock flair that goes along with post-punk. The guitars build and build going up every note until madness strikes. More and more instruments and guitar patterns are introduced into a chaotic climax of the faster-paced punk the track begins with. The comedown from this climax lasts a minute, letting the listener absorb the overall obscenity of the record.
Joy As An Act of Resistance is a great sequel to Brutalism. It’s not going to be for everyone, as this style of music will alienate people who lean towards the catchy and hook-based songs, but for the post-punk aficionados, this will be an album of the year candidate, further emphasizing the fast-growing path of the innovative British IDLES.