Following their critically acclaimed debut album Brutalism, the Bristol-based quintet IDLES have supported big names such as the Maccabees and Foo Fighters. But it was their most recent release, Joy as an Act of Resistance, that threw them headfirst into mass popularity.
What is it about this new album that has caught the attention of the many? When considering the current state of affairs in Britain and abroad, we might not be surprised by their success. The album reinvigorates the revolutionary political fervour of punk music rooted in the previous generation, yet maintains a firm grasp on the contemporary scene. For example, writing of “blue passports” in songs like Great and Danny Nedelko seems to serve to highlight the reality of today’s political climate.
But there is more to IDLES than that. What distinguishes IDLES from pure lefty political punk is their call for, to quote the title, ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’. Despite the loud heavy riffs and jagged vocals, this album asks us to look inwards, rather than spouting an anarchic “f*uck the system” message, which is strongly associated with punk music. They are questioning the individual and their attitudes.
Samaritans breaks down the dominant structures of masculinity, which will hopefully not only inspire our generation to do away with the ancient pre-existing ideals of manhood, but – taking into account the band’s popularity with over 40s – also that of our parents’. Maybe this is why we dosee our fathers cry. The song is paradoxical, as it is angrily shouted in the most stereotypically aggressive male fashion, but that’s the point; expertly demonstrating, in practice, how emotion makes you far from weak.
The band seem to perfectly encapsulate the identity crises so prevalent in this day and age – from the individual self-love featured in Television, to the acceptance of others. “Positivity punk”, as Rolling Stone so tactfully coined them, is what modern music needs – something that makes you stop and think about yourself, others and, most importantly, unity.