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Idles

Brutalism

Written by: MIN on 26/04/2017 13:24:52

”NO SURRENDER!”, a woman screams atop the sound of police sirens as the Bristol, UK-based punk band Idles quickly cements that they won’t be going down easily. With one foot firmly rooted Joy Division’s post-punk sound and another in the classic punk-mentality of the Sex Pistols, they thrust their way through an album filled with lyrics about inequality, religion, politics and human injustice, whether physical or psychological. They demand to be heard and by the sound of it, they don’t really give a damn whether you agree with them or not; their aptly titled début record, “Brutalism”, takes no prisoners in the band’s war against the right-wing part of Great Britain’s society.

The majority of the songs throughout the album — most notably highlights “Mother” and “Well Done” — are constructed around verses with steady drum-beats and bouncing bass-lines onto which vocalist Joe Talbot spews out harsh vocals, right until the chorus kicks in, all-guns-blazing and with a noisy guitar-frenzy. The former of the two songs sees Talbot complain about his mother’s absurd working hours while he proclaims that the capitalist society’s leaders’ biggest fear is a young punk like himself getting an education and — in the long run — infiltrating their world. However, this is only an example of the many different poignant, critical observations the band presents over the course of an album that rarely lets its listener breathe.

The band occasionally manages to combine their political commentary with a sense of humor in tracks like the ironic “Stendhal Syndrome”, in which the band voices its disapproval of several classic paintings, thus resulting in the complete opposite of what said syndrome actually means. By contradiction, on the other side of the lyrical spectrum we find “1049 Grotho”, in which Talbot nicely illustrates how he tries to level with his friend, who is fighting a depression:

My friend is so depressed // He wishes he was dead // I swam inside his head // And this is what he said // “Help me” // “Help me” // “Won’t someone set me free” // “There’s no right side of the bed with a body like mine and a mind like mine”

But while Idles present some different facets of their world, the most dominant one remains the one presenting their political agenda, and when you’re almost through the LP, both the musical clobbering and the constantly pissed-off, first-person narrative gets a little stale. Luckily, the album-closer, “Slow Savage”, displays another side of the band, with a slow piano and a haunting atmosphere opening up for Talbot to profess his own shortcomings — more precisely his shoddy character when being in a relationship. It’s a nice and necessary change of pace for an album that constantly rages, both musically and lyrically.

Ultimately, “Brutalism” is an impressive debut by a young band which shines lyrically on several occasions. The play their instruments fast and they play them well without ever looking back, expertly mixing post-punk and noise rock with punk attitude. Admittedly, Idles don’t showcase anything that original here, but then again, they don’t need to when their passion burns as bright as it does.

Download: Well Done, Mother, 1049 Grotho, Exeter
For the fans of: Ought, Future of the Left, Hawk Eyes, Joy Division, The Sex Pistols
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.03.2017
Balley Records

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