When us 53rd folks talked about doing our albums of the year, my initial reaction was “how the hell do I just choose one album ?”. I started making a list of albums I’d bought this year and tried to pick one. I didn’t spend too long on this task, as when I got to The Idles “Brutalism”, I realised that this is the ONE album that I have played consistently since it’s release and never tired of a single track. Considering that it was released in March, I have played this constantly for 9 months. I can’t say that for any other album.
As a debut album, this is an absolute beast of relentless powerhouse rhythm with a caustic, in-your-face, vitriolic vocal. Not pretty at all. As I write this piece, I have the album blasting away in the background. It really feels like singer Joe Talbot, is stood behind me, screaming “Divide and Conquer”. This is not a mission statement but a tirade against the disembowelment of our NHS.
Taken from the You Tube description … “A loved one perished at the hand of the barren-hearted right” stands alone as the monolithic truth, a sad lyric that blisters on just how fucked we all are.
As well as the bludgeoning music, these guys really have something to say. Try this for size, my favourite track on the album.
“Stendhal Syndrome” shows the lyrical depth and diversity of the songs on the album. In a statement to The Know, lead singer Joe Talbot said this about the song: “I once sat on a bench in a gallery in Valencia. I stared in awe of a painting for a good while, I was moved to tears by the scene of a man holding a crucifix at the top of a mound of other figures grappling for the glory of God. I’m not religious but it captivated me to the point of nausea. I looked into this and the phenomenon which has happened before and since, it’s called Stendhal Syndrome. Those moments in my life were not driven by any pretension but from something intrinsically fucking magical. Now, of course, there is an obvious class divide sustained in the art world and that will always be there so long as art is perceived as this language only to be spoken and understood by the rich but the likelihood of our songs being heard and in turn being listened to by the upper classes is very unlikely, so I thought I’d highlight the other side that helps keep up the bullshit; that “I could do that” attitude because it’s fucking ignorant and it’s lazy and why the fuck does one persons voice have to be shut down because you could fucking do it! Shut up, you’re boring. You didn’t do it BUT YOU CAN and maybe if you did you’d be less defensive about other people expressing themselves and you not. All is love.”
Unfortunately I haven’t had the pleasure of catching The Idles live and didn’t move fast enough to catch their UK mini tour next April, which sold out instantly.
The band have toured Europe relentlessly in 2017 – check ’em out in 2018 if you can move fast enough to get a ticket. Hopefully there’ll be more UK dates to come. The beast that is “Brutalism” comes even more alive on the stage.
I’ll leave you with the band’s “About” statement – “At a point of uncertainty, IDLES bring you concise carnage. At a time of lies, IDLES bring you honesty. At a time of body shaming and Photoshop, IDLES bring you a visceral barrage of joyous bile. At a time of The Kardashians, IDLES bring you a story of working hard for what and who you love. In a time of polarised politics and murky waters; IDLES and bands like them are needed to remind people that it’s ok to dance and laugh and sing in the face of adversity.
At it’s most basic level, “Brutalism” certainly makes me want to dance, laugh and sing. What more can you ask of an album ?