‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’. The title alone of IDLES’ sophomore album comes loaded with meaning, but the question is, what is it that Idles are resisting against?
It doesn’t take long for that unknown to make itself abundantly clear. This album is a declaration of war on toxic masculinity, toxic xenophobia and toxic expectations. When frontman Joe Talbot isn’t taking on all comers, he uses ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ as a visceral, cathartic self-examination. In short, this is an album needed more than anyone realised.
Colossus kicks things off in horrifyingly brilliant style, with an anxiety-boosting slow-burner that, just when you think it’s over and you can finally take a breath, takes a sudden turn to an unhinged ferocious punk song. “Goes and it goes and it goes,” Talbot spits repeatedly, it certainly does.
Never Fight A Man With A Perm and I’m Scum are neatly put together as Talbot explores his past in the former, a past he admittedly detests, while in the latter, he accepts, somewhat sardonically, that he is whatever people say he is and comes to make peace with that fact.
The middle fingers are out in force in the brash yet beautiful Danny Nedelko as Idles take a swipe at the anti-immigrant sentiment that is all too abundant in modern-day Britain. The song preaches acceptance but more than that it attempts to blur the lines of who is British and who isn’t. Unity indeed.
Samaritans is the album’s piéce de résistance, as it takes aim at the outdated aspects of masculinity. “Man up/Sit down/Chin Up/Pipe Down/Socks Up/Don’t Cry/Drink up/Just Lie/Grow some balls, he said/Grow some balls.” It’s intensely ferocious, yet harrowingly beautiful at the same time. It may just be the most important song of 2018.
Television challenges beauty standards, while Great hits out at all the bad decisions the British government has taken in recent years. A near-unrecognisable, drawling cover of Solomon Burke’s Cry To Me is as welcome as it is unexpected.
Joy As An Act Of Resistance closes out with the chaotically superb yet frustratingly long Rottweiler. Frustratingly long you say? We just want to hit play again, ok!?
Goes and it goes and it goes.