- by Bob Coyne Release Date: Label:
You know you’re in for a good night when the lead singer, Joe Talbot, comes out 15 minutes before the rest of the band and quietly stalks the stage. Pacing up and down he doesn’t say a word, just cracking the odd smile at the few shouts of ‘Tarquin’ and ‘Well Done’.
IDLES are an angry band and fuck me do we need them right now. When I first heard an advance of Brutalism, their debut album, a few months back, it practically screamed everything I’d been feeling these last few years. There’s just so many things to be angry about with the world right now but as IDLES and myself are British, let me vent about the state of this island of hypocrisy for a moment.
Tories, David Cameron’s face, Nigel Farage’s face, Katie Hopkins face, The Daily Mail, The Sun, and to top it off, Theresa May has now called a general election at a time when we need stability. Well Done.
I can’t quite put my finger on the exact point it all went wrong but, musically I’m blaming Topshop Indie. You know when every band thought it was enough to just wear skinny jeans and perform a piss poor karaoke version of the Strokes? It happened around 2008 and it’s still fucking happening, only now it’s getting worse. Every day I receive emails here at Soundblab from bands describing themselves as ‘we are an alternative band, influenced by Ed Sheeran and The 1975’. No, no, no, no, fucking no. The lines have been blurred and we need to stop this shit right now. Only last week someone at the Guardian described Harry Styles as the new David Bowie and his single as ‘indie pop balladry’. What does that even mean? Those three words should never be uttered in the same sentence unless you want to induce mass vomiting. This is why a band like IDLES are so important today.
There’s so much amazing music being made right now, it’s as good as any other time in history but it’s not being heard. I want a new John Peel. I want to watch great music TV on a Friday night and I want a new NME, not that shite they hand out for free. This is my fear, that IDLES will not reach enough people at a time when we need it. Think about the greatest angry records, Never Mind The Bollocks, In Utero, Rage Against The Machine, Fear of a Black Planet. IDLES have made a record that ranks alongside them all.
Joe Talbot has Johnny Rotten and Keith Flint in his DNA. For the first few tracks he spits up into the air and onto himself, sheer rage on his face. Starting with Heel Heel which has an Industrial drumbeat reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ March of the Pigs, they don’t let up for the best part of an hour. They’ve been described as Post Punk but that’s not quite right. The twin guitar assault of Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan has a metallic, angular feel to it but this is closer to punk rock or the post hardcore of Pissed Jeans. IDLES can sometimes look like five misfits from five different bands but there’s no denying they are all on the same page.
Arguably there are 13 anthems on Brutalism but the real standouts, Well Done and Stendhal Syndrome, get the biggest reactions tonight. Two songs that set IDLES apart from just another band making a racket, they have the potential to reach a mass audience. Write a song about class divide that mentions a loveable TV chef and a Radio 1 DJ and get yourself invited onto BBC 6 music in the process, genius. Shame we live in the age of the idiot and the real meaning will be lost on most.
Divide and Conquer is immense, as is Mother, with both tracks bringing out even more rage from Talbot, who fittingly takes the odd swig of something alcoholic and spits it back into the crowd. As much as I’ve loved the psych revival of the last few years it’s also nice to see some serious moshing tonight. They play Queens from their MEAT ep and finish as any great band should with Talbot leaving the stage and the band continuing for a further few minutes, beating the shit out of their intruments.
This band is vital right now. Get up every morning and listen to Brutailsm. Be angry about everything. Go see them live. If you’re young and someone calls you a snowflake, punch them in the face. Then on June 8th go out and vote, just don’t vote for that Tory scum.