Album Review: Idles - Brutalism
With a title like Brutalism, you could be forgiven for expecting a sonic assault from Idles. Despite what the name of the album might suggest, the Bristol five piece’s debut album doesn’t dip its toes into the hardcore and metal genres. Instead, the title seems to be in reference to subject matter, which deals with the current state of the country.
The album briefly went viral when lead singer Joe Talbot appeared on the Facebook page of a vinyl pressing company. He announced that he wished to honour the memory of his recently deceased mother by having her ashes pressed into a limited run, which would be on sale to the general public. This is just a small taste of the kind of mindset Idles have towards their music.
Well Done is a perplexing track that drips with sarcasm, as Talbot repetitively works his way through a list of meddlesome queries. “Well done! Why don’t you get a job? Even Tarquin’s got a job. Mary Berry’s got a job. So why don’t you get a job?”
He steadily makes his way through a list of life choices and societal pressures, including degrees, achievements and playing football (all related back to Mary Berry for some reason) to make a barbed point about societal conformity. (As an aside; I have watched videos of American music journalists reviewing the album and it’s hilarious to watch them having to explain who Mary Berry is!)
Idles bring all of these elements together to create a punk rock masterpiece, as relevant to the current state of the country as The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen was back in the day.
– Sam Brookes
Lead single Mother is a deceiving track. Dread is built up throughout the run time as the tempo and volume of the bass & guitar riff and drums are introduced in intricate layers. The song served as my introduction to the band, and at first, I wrote them off due to the repetition of the verse: “My Mother worked 15 hours, five days a week. My mother worked 16 hours, six days a week. My mother worked 17 hours, seven days a week.”
At first, it seems like an attempt to draw furious attention to unfair work policies and gender rights, especially when Talbot lectures us about the best way to scare a Tory. However, during the bridge the true topic of the track comes into sharp focus. Talbot performs a spoken piece about the need to combat sexual and domestic violence. This gives new, dreadful context to the chorus (which I can’t write here as its expletive riddled). I’d urge everyone to listen to the track below.
The opening riff and cries of “woo!” on 1049 Gotho might fool you into thinking this is a party track. Talbot immediately launches into a diatribe about the destructive habits that form from depression. It is an uncomfortable listen as the band practically holds your head and force you to stare at the two characters as their mental health leads them to self-destruct. Upon writing the track, the band dubbed it “a bit Gotho”, which turned out to be the name of a distant asteroid. Is there a more apt metaphor for depression than being crushed by a giant rock?
Any real British punk album worthy of note comes loaded with snarling commentary, spades of sarcasm and a blistering combination of frantic drums and hateful riffs. Idles bring all of these elements together to create a punk rock masterpiece, as relevant to the current state of the country as The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen was back in the day.
The Breakdown | Album Review: Idles – Brutalism
Relevant Punk Rock
A punk rock masterpiece, as relevant to the current state of the country as The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen was back in the day.