A dichotomy between joy and rage has always existed with Idles, their fierce sonics balanced with a darkly sarcastic sense of humour. But whereas their debut Brutalism at times felt like it was recorded immediately before frontman Joe Talbot went on a wrecking spree, 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' instead channels that rage into something far more productive and wholesome. With impassioned songs about toxic masculinity, mental health issues, Brexit and immigration - this album chews up a whole load of BIG issues without ever feeling like a overly-political rant. It is one of the most vital and important albums of 2018.
If early singles ‘Colossus’ and ‘Danny Nedelko’ showcased a band taking huge strides forwards in both confidence and ambition, it is a giant leap that has carried into all of Joy. ‘Love Song’ and ‘Samaritans’ show a new sense of vulnerability, an openness influenced by a desperately painful time in Talbot’s and his partner’s life. The latter, an assault on the deadly mask of masculinity “Man up, sit down, chin up, pipe down…This is why you never see your father cry” is a hugely powerful and prescient message that echoes through the entire album. Even the cover of Solomon Burke’s ‘Cry To Me’ carries with it a promise that there will always, always, be someone there for you when you need them.
If that risks sounding too heavy, then fear not. Recorded in the same raw three-takes-and-done manner as ‘Brutalism’, the energy and power spilling out from the Bristol gang is enough to power a small country. It is the sound of a band growing into themselves, seeking to push their sound in new directions, all the while stretching and breaking boundaries that only the foolish would try to put around them. To paraphrase ‘I’m Scum’, these snowflakes are becoming an avalanche.