Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance (4 stars)

Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance

Sophmore album provides some timely inspiration and sympathy

The word 'important' is overused in the context of new bands but don't think twice about applying it to Idles. The Bristolian punk band's second album Joy As An Act Of Resistance further marks them out as one of the most thrilling guitar bands of the present day. Their 2017 debut Brutalism, was both aggressive – in its attacks on austerity Britain – and tender, when frontman Joe Talbot laid bare the grief of losing his sick mother, who he'd spent years caring for before her passing. Talbot was also direct and prescient about #MeToo. 'Sexual violence doesn't start and end with rape,' he sang. 'It starts in our books and behind our school gates.'

Joy As An Act Of Resistance is another vital offering from the five piece. It boldly assesses what it means to be a man today, confronting and challenging societal expectations of the 'strong and silent type' passed on from generation to generation. It understands the frustration of feeling trapped and worthless and lends a sympathetic ear, while encouraging self-improvement rather than mindless violence. Even when the message is angry ('I smash mirrors, and fuck TV'), it's positive at its core ('Love yourself').

'Danny Nedelko' humanises the immigrants who've contributed greatly to our society and are now so widely scapegoated, packing a chorus the Clash would have been proud of. 'Cry To Me' disarms, a 60s standard played by punks. It follows 'June', in which Talbot sings about the loss of his daughter Agatha. 'Baby shoes for sale, never worn'. It's haunting; evidence of his range as a writer and his commitment to encouraging vulnerability. So this is an important record. This is what punk can be – not a fashion statement, not a series of half-baked slogans with no sentiment – but music inspiring in its energy and heart.

Out now (Partisan Records).

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