Album review: Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance

Idles are a five-piece from Bristol who have been described as 'the UK's best punk band'.

Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance (Partisan Records)
Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance (Partisan Records)

And while that’s a matter of opinion, they’re certainly one of its brightest emerging lights.

They burst onto the scene last year with their self-released debut album, Brutalism, which won wide critical acclaim.

Idles have been described as the UK's best punk band.

Their acceptance by the scene as a whole was confirmed earlier this month they turned in a tremendous performance on the main Empress Ballroom stage at their eagerly-awaited debut at the Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool.

This is the so-called difficult second album, but if anything it’s better than the debut, which made it into many reviewers’ ‘best of 2017’ lists.

They marry the sound of the best classic post-punk bands, such as Public Image Limited and The Fall, to the sort of modern punk produced by the likes of Slaves and Gallows.

Much of their sound is based around rhythmic – almost tribal – drumming, punctuated by jagged bursts of guitar and frontman Joe Talbot’s visceral delivery.

You might already be familiar with some of the album, as four tracks - including slow-burning opener Colossus and the pro-immigration anthem Danny Nedelko (named after Talbot's friend, the singer with Heavy Lungs) - have already been released as downloads.

The latter is one of the album’s best tracks, but there’s plenty more to enjoy, including Love Song, which tackles narcissism, the self-loathing I’m Scum, and the superbly-titled Never Fight A Man With A Perm.

It also includes a cover of soul great Solomon Burke’s Cry To Me, which works surprisingly well.

The standout track, however, is June, a painfully raw song which addresses the death in childbirth of Talbot’s daughter Agatha.

You almost feel like you are intruding on his family’s personal grief when he sings “a stillborn was still born, I am a father”, and the utterly heartbreaking chorus “baby shoes for sale, never worn”. Stunning stuff. 9/10.