The most eagerly anticipated album of 2018. Bar none. Fact.
IDLES, in the space of a couple of years and one album, have transcended the UK music industry and evolved from an irritating fragment of gravel in the shoe of popular culture to full blown poster boys for the future of music, society, the universe and pretty much anything else you care to mention. If their debut Brutalism took a blunderbuss to a knife fight in a bid to lay waste to the perceived multitude of cancerous sins being committed in the name of ‘modern living’ then Joy As An Act Of Resistance has a more measured snipers aim.
A mere 500 words is insufficient to convey the relevance and emotional catharsis contained within this album, I could and probably should attempt a genuine critique but you know what…sod it! If you really want a smart, intellectual dissection of the album then there is a myriad to choose from within a quick Google search. I refuse to fawn over the band simply because it’s a fashionable and populist notion but…but…this is a staggering piece of work. On display are eleven tracks of wit, sarcasm, scorn and visions of a better world set against a barbaric soundtrack which is seemingly on the point of collapse, teetering over the precipice like an Italian coach laden with gold bullion. If the band broke into a rendition of ‘The Self Preservation Society’ it would be wholly appropriate.
However, the album is split asunder by ‘June’ a song recorded amidst a time of unspeakable personal tragedy for frontman Joe Talbot. Speaking as someone who has just become a Grandad for the first time, the song is virtually impossible to listen to, a relentless percussive heartbeat topped with the tortured, tormented words of Hemingway “Baby shoes. For sale, Never Worn”. Be human, shed tears, be real, embrace your honesty. These are the themes of the album and if you aren’t in bits at the end of 3 mins 35 seconds then you simply aren’t listening. Or you’re Tory Health Minister.
Anger and frustration are no longer the sole domain of the young and disenchanted, the rest of us feel it too, just in a more articulate form and IDLES have fronted up and reflected this malaise. Now, they would appreciate it if we all did the same. Joy As An Act Of Resistance is whatever you want/need it to be, just make it something. Please.
After a Bank Holiday of reflection, here’s what the album means to me:
It’s the contents of Rosa Parks’ shopping basket.
It’s the sound of a leaf hoover sucking up damp Autumn detritus
It’s the ring of scum left around the inside of a white mug by cheap sachets of coffee
It’s hearing ‘Atmosphere’ for the first time (not the Russ Abbott version)
It’s ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s the regret of not saying sorry
It’s the shame of walking past a homeless woman to use a cashpoint
It’s saying too much yet knowing so little
It’s buying your Mum Tipp-ex on Mothers Day cos everywhere else is closed
It’s a promise kept over twenty years
It’s the sound a Mother makes when her baby breaks
Ladies and gents…IDLES. Listen, reflect, then change your little piece of the world for the better.
‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ is out on August 31st on Partisan