IDLES prove they’re One of UK’s Finest with Second Album ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance‘
Punk is well and truly kicking in Idles’ new release – Joy as an Act of Resistance. It is the second album by the Bristol band consisting of Joe Talbot, Adam Devonshire, Mark Bowen, Lee Kieran and Jon Beavis. For those of you unfamiliar with the band, I would compare them mostly to Slaves. Their half sung, half shouted style is most definitely infectious and really grabs you through their music.
Idles released their first album Brutalism in 2017 (FULL REVIEW HERE). The band did reportedly struggle to find their sound initially, Talbot claiming “It took us a long time to get productive because we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing at all, we were fucking terrible for a long time.” However, this time was obviously well spent, with Brutalism being very well received, and the sophomore album is in no way secondary to this.
The witty lyrics of sarcastic frontman, Joe, reference heavily, with some more obscure and unexpected than others. Rock is an obvious reference point in ‘Cry to me’. The track seems almost synonymous with the Rolling Stone’s track of the same name, but Idles successfully stamp their post-punk sound all over it.
Perhaps highlighting Idles laid back approach to music and care free attitude, the 80’s classic Dirty dancing appears on the album “I carried a watermelon/ I wanna be vulnerable in the shape of Love song”. It seems Idles have a particular penchant for the past, quoting 1960s Nancy Sinatra ‘These boots were made for walking’ In ‘Never fight a man with a perm’, almost with the delivery of One of these days- Operation Ivy, post punking a classic once again. Revival seems the name of the game here.
We can really see that, Idles have not lost their sense of humour in anyway in their second album. While delivered in true Idles fashion, some may call loud and angry, light-heartedness doesn’t go a miss with obvious reality TV references “You look like you’re from Love Island in Love song” and self-degradation in ‘I’m scum’.
But, Idles cannot be discredited for tackling a variety of subjects throughout the album. There’s so much truth in the album, the frontman in particular really sharing his reality through the music. ‘Colossus’, the album opener, bursts through the speakers with great fury and anger. Addressing Talbot’s alcohol addiction, the frontman almost spits the line “I waste away for fun” repeatedly .This track isn’t the first time he has spoken so candidly about his problem with drink, “I’m just a prick. I get paranoid, jealous, angry, violent”. This reality and truth is achieved by both the tempo and the intensity of the drums changing continually creating a certain chaos and anxiety.
Loud and angry aren’t the only characteristics to achieve truth in this album. ‘June’, the most poignant track on the album by far, is notably the slowest song on the album. This is really quite a difficult song to listen to, being Talbot’s platform for the grief surrounding the death of his daughter, Agatha, in June of 2017. Much like ‘Colossus’, the song really feels like a relief for Talbot, personalising the album incredibly although the frontman claimed he was unsure if this song would be released. The most haunting lines in the song are “Dreams can be so cruel sometimes/ I swear I kissed your crying eyes and A stillborn was born/ I am a father”. The tone of Talbot’s voice is extremely harrowing while the production is extremely simple, almost sitting on the lines of Nana- The 1975.
The album is also highly uplifting, achieving many a mode in a series of twelve tracks. ‘Television’ tackles self-love and reflection in the age of such ridiculous beauty standards and media pressure. This track encapsulates Joy as an act of resistance, calling for acceptance of uniqueness against continual calls for obedience, most notably in ‘Love yourself’, “The bastards make you not want to look like you and I smash mirrors and fuck TV”.
The song stands as a message of positivity and confidence while the media perpetuates nonsense for conformity and insecurity. Similar to this is the most poppy song on the album, ‘Danny Nedelko’, names after the Hungarian frontman of Heavy Lungs, perpetuating hope and positivity. The song circles around the issue of immigration expressed in “He’s made of bones/ He’s made of blood/ He’s made of flesh/ He’s made of love/ He’s made of you/ He’s made of me/ Unity!” This track is actually quite refreshing, although still delivered in Idles’ fashion, a social message is put forward rather eloquently. Although Talbot describes the song as ‘more of a humane portrait than a political song’, he also wanted the ‘two notions to be inseparable’. The song achieves such that, the song captures immigration as a human issue rather than a black and white issue as often shown in the media.
All in all, I would describe this new release as eclectic and truthful. Taking influences from a variety of sources, while addressing multiple facets, the album is an obvious journey through a life lived.
I already can’t wait for the next one!
Words by Robyn Hartley