Rating: 4.5 out of 5
You wait around for a feral, untethered, vital, challenging and dynamic record to shock your senses and then two come along in the space of eighteen months, and both are by the same band. Idles released their debut album 'Brutalism' and drew a very positive reaction from those who appreciated its raw energy, its confrontational attitude and its unflinching observational dialogue.
After forming in 2012 in Bristol and releasing and handful of singles and E.P.s, last year's full album release marked a coming-of-age for a band who have admitted to not having a clue what they were doing to begin with. To hear their latest release and to see them perform live you'd have no doubt that the band have every clue what they are doing now, just how driven they are and just how totally authentic and engaging they are.
Idles latest album is inspired by many things but largely it takes its foundations from feelings of vulnerability, compassion, community, love and also about being honest with yourself. With his latest record lead singer Joe Talbot has learned to come to terms with his flaws, he says, "I am completely flawed, but so are you, and that's Ok. We are not alone". It is this philosophy and the people around him that have helped Joe through the most devastating family tragedy and it is through his band that he has been able to so eloquently express that.
'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' is a blistering twelve track album full of not so much pent up emotion but fully fledged, visceral, acutely animated and fiery emotion with no holds barred that most certainly wears its heart on its sleeve. From the opening track 'Colossus', Idles take you on a journey of epic proportions, pulling and pummelling you with a controlled violence that is near terrifying in its ferocity at times. Joe's vocal screams out with the pain of a man intent on unleashing all the passion he can muster whilst the soundtrack to accompany him pelts along at full tilt.
The stormy and turbulent sound continues unabated with the superbly titled 'Never Fight A Man With A Perm' and 'I Am Scum'. Both are lyrically brilliant and both showcase the band's ability to underscore each composition with deft percussive flourishes and bubbling bass lines. It is not until 'Love Song', a song Joe describes as "A clumsy niave clusterf**k", and 'June' that the pace and intensity of JAAAOR shows any signs of relenting. The latter, which only just made it onto the record at the last minute, is so heart-wrenchingly sad it is difficult to imagine how Joe gets through the performance. The line, "Babies shoes for sale, never worn" cuts right through to the core each and every time it is sung.
Arguably the most immediate tracks on the album are the singles, including the infectious stomp of Danny Nedelko, super speedy beats and sing-a-long jamboree of 'Great', and the less anthemic, but just as challenging and provocative 'Samaritans' but all twelve tracks offer up something different. 'Television', written for Joe's daughter, is an in-yer-face onslaught with a New Model Army quality evoked especially through Adam Devonshire's bass line whilst 'Glam Rock' (Ten points to Gryffindor!) and 'Cry To Me', the two shortest tracks on the album, carry a real sense and sound of an older Punk attitude that has clearly been carried through to 2018.
'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' is a fully formed, triumphant and masterful follow up to Idles' debut album 'Brutalism'. Idles have captured their spirit and their venom fantastically well with this release. It's so full of rage and an unrelenting honest passion that you can't help but be drawn in by it and bowled over by its infectious energy.