IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance

While Joy as an Act of Resistance might not flow perfectly as an album, many of its songs when taken on their own raise some serious hell

Album Review by Ryan Drever | 29 Aug 2018
Album title: Joy as an Act of Resistance
Artist: IDLES
Label: Partisan Records
Release date: 31 Aug

The opening, thudding bass of Colossus rings in IDLES’ recorded return with an intimidating, almost ritualistic rhythm. It’s so spare and barren when compared to the Bristol band’s usual order of business (high pace, fury, weapons-grade sarcasm) that it’s immediately ominous. Building in intensity until breaking point, it’s not long before it all erupts into something altogether more familiar and hard-paced but already this is a welcome change in mood to kick us off.

Without missing a beat, the band are back doing what they do best though and kick in hard with the scathing (and hilarious) Never Fight a Man With a Perm, casting a blinding, mocking light over pumped-up Saturday night machismo and broader male violence; its chorus swinging in the air like lumbering fists on a cold, wet night. Nipping at its heels, I’m Scum and Danny Nedelko keep the punches rolling as the band turn class inequality and immigration into throaty, pogoing anthems of indignation.

However, with the exception of the sombre June (another welcome change in tone) most of the songs deal in the same hammer-heavy, leary rhythms and pulsing, barbwire bass, to the point where they sound so similar back-to-back that it’s tough to distinguish and digest them in their own right. Besides some pretty clear face value, there are layers, moods, attitudes and tones to dissect and unpick which are overshadowed somewhat as the album stands. Might be something a quick shuffle would sort out, but it’s frustrating because taken on their own, many of these songs raise some serious hell.

Listen to: Collossus, Never Fight a Man With a Perm, Television