Album Review: IDLES – ‘Brutalism’

Brutalism is the debut album from UK Post-Punk band IDLES and it looks to be the first big step on their way to stardom, or at least critical acclaim. While starting up in Bristol the band quickly started to develop their sound and more importantly their live feel while playing at their own club night (Batcave).  As soon as everything was in place the guys quickly moved into the studio to record their debut album, and here we are.

The album from start to finish is packed with aggression, anger and crippling pain and it’s conveyed through every aspect of the band. The drums, vocals, guitars and the overall delivery of each song is tarnished with this gritty coat of violence, which the band wear with pride throughout the whole record, rightly so.

The album kicks off with the visceral ‘heel/heal’ which sets the landscape for the record, acting as a warning to people who are listening, if you do not like this song, put the record down and walk away. If you choose to stick with it, you’re then treated to the hilarious ‘Well Done’ which seemingly lists through people who have done things with their lives follow by the sarcastic “Well Done”, and while you’re creasing with laughter you can still manage to scream the lyrics to the top of your lungs.

The album continues this complete onslaught with your ears taking the brunt of the delightful punishment, songs like ‘Mother’ and ‘1049 Gotho’ tackle the issues of the best way to scare a tory and abusive relationships respectively. This makes the album incredibly real and human, because it’s not often that these issues are tackled so aggressively through music and it’s refreshing to hear a band doing this.

The drums are a joy to listen to through this entire record simply because of how tight and punchy they are, acting like an exclamation point after everything that lead sing Joe Talbot states. There’s no better example of this than on ‘Rachel Khoo’ where the drummer manages to keep hold of this incredibly snug drum rhythm making it a stand out track on the whole record, and a lot of credit must go to that performance.

‘Stendhal Syndrome’ comes quick like a punch in the gut as once again the band come at you with this army of noise, wielding an obscure song subject. Stendhal syndrome is a psychosomatic disorder which can cause dizziness, confusion and hallucinations when viewing pieces of Art. Talbot weaves this perfectly into the song as he seems to take umbrage with people who don’t have any appreciation for Artwork and constantly put anything down.

The album finishes as strongly as it started with the notable tracks ‘Exeter’, ‘White Privilege’ and ‘Slow Savage’ driving the album home. They all embody what this whole album has been about, with witty sarcastic lyrics backed by a complete violent sound. Talbot runs down the City of Exeter for being boring in ‘Exter’ while he equally takes shots at privileged white people in ‘White Privilege’.

The album can easily be chalked up as a triumph for the band as they’ve provided listeners with a perfect base of what to expect from them, which is high quality post-punk music. Of course they draw similarities to the two-piece Slaves, however they’re very much a different band with a fuller sound but with the identical gripes. Hopefully this record has given birth to a new band that people can turn to for honesty and to simply go mental whenever it’s played.

Words by Alex Wise @AJWise


Favourite Tracks: ‘Well Done’, ’Mother’, ‘1049 Gotho’ , Rachel Khoo’ and ‘Stendhal Syndrome’.