Overflowing with brutal honesty, a plea to social change, love and the importance of speech, Idles have returned even more impassioned than ever before. And you know why? Because Joy as an Act of Resistance is an outright demonstration of a band reassessing what issues matter to them most and is a matured project with clear efforts of working in total unity.
Despite Brutalism certainly being an acclaimed album of the hardcore post-punk industry (and rightly so), with every listen of Joy I believe it really does start to overshadow the potent Bristol-born quintet’s debut album. This is because it sounds far more sophisticated, polished, and ambitious. Brutalism totally deserves its reputation for being one of the most defining neo-punk albums of the decade. However, after interviewing the lads on their previous stretch of tour dates, they highlighted unity was sometimes an issue whilst recording that debut LP. It seemed, at times, credit wasn’t given where it was due, and members of the band weren’t able to indulge in their own musical contribution.
Whereas Joy demonstrates that while Idles have still very much remained to their roots with their heavy beats and simplistic yet essential lyricism, their overall sound is bigger. It’s louder, it’s more cohesive and as a result, far more taunting than its predecessor.
‘Colossus’, the album’s opening track is a haunting, merciless and pounding confession that comprises of a resounding drum beat. This is later joined by a forewarning guitar riff, immediately ravishing the listener in a warmth of anticipation and thrill. Soon you find yourself plunged into the echoing chamber of Talbot’s thoughts which are given life to by the musical counterparts merging to create a heavy as hell undertone.
The formidable, full-bodied frontman Joe Talbot has gripped this album by its throat accompanied by a tenacious snarl as he presents lyricism that is infiltrated in sarcasm, desire, and satire. However, there is nothing humorous about the topics of conversation. In an age of Brexit, Trump, a push for mental health support and toxic masculinity, there hasn’t been a more important time for such a musical prodigy to surface.
‘Samaritans’ oozes the importance of talking, the pressures of being male in a modern society and how damaging this ideal can be. Idles, in some ways, are preaching to the largely male music industry about how hegemonic masculinity is absurd and ultimately detrimental. This is later coupled with 9thtrack ‘Television’ which spreads the importance of loving yourself and sticking to what you truly believe in. Again, Idles are showcasing that listening to society’s idea of beauty is destructive. But rather than spreading hate, Idles are spreading the importance of love. Love others and love yourself.
However, what is most hard-hitting and emotive is stirring song ‘June’. A song that is dedicated to Talbot’s late daughter and grief which undoubtedly fuelled and shaped the entire record. Talbot takes this one almost as a healing monologue, repeating he’ll “mend” coupled with the evocative “baby shoes for sale, never worn”. By placing such a raw, personal, and painful song surrounded by tracks preaching love and self-acceptance only reinforces this idea that life can be so fragile. Life is too short. Humans need to love and be loved rather than spreading hate and creating divisions.
Joy as an Act Of Resistance is a landmark. Not only in the music industry, but it should also be a landmark in your perception. It encourages you to re-evaluate the way you treat others. It encourages you to re-evaluate the way you treat yourself. And if it doesn’t, it should.