The word “important” is thrown around so frivolously in recent times, that to use it in relation to this album almost feels like doing it a disservice. But this album is so poignant and necessary that I feel like I need to tell everyone to listen.
Colossus was the first taster we got of new music from Idles since 2017’s self-released Brutalism. It tackles weighty issues surrounding masculinity, which frontman Joe Talbot seems to have battled with; “I am my father’s son, his shadow weighs a tonne”. The track builds slowly, accompanying the rage in Talbot’s voice perfectly before erupting into blistering, unhinged punk. As far as album opener’s go, this one is a real treat.
From one of the best tracks on the album to another, next up is Never Fight a Man With a Perm. A track Talbot describes as “an exploration of the horrid corners of my past”, which sounds as wild as it is funny, the lyrics on this album can have you thinking about political unrest to laughing out loud in three seconds flat; “me, oh me, oh my, Roy, you look like a walking thyroid, you’re not a man you’re a gland, you’re one big neck with sausage hands”.
The record rips through I’m Scum and Danny Nedelko before getting to Love Song, originally crafted as a techno song, Talbot sings of what is apparently the unadulterated love he has for his partner.
June brings a shift in tone to the album, and the simplicity of the lyrics is what makes it all the more heartbreaking. Talbot went through the unimaginable pain of a baby being still born. He repeats some of Ernest Hemingway’s work, what is known as “flash fiction”. Six words; “baby shoes, for sale, never worn”. The track is jarring, but makes you appreciate the depths Joe Talbot is going to for his craft.
Samaritans is the track that is most obvious attack on toxic masculinity, the issues surrounding the term “man up’, how a father’s tough exterior can affect the emotional wellbeing of his children and a life of being told to “grow some balls”.
The thing that impresses me most about Idles, and Joe Talbot’s song writing, is how such deep societal issues are tackled without sounding condescending or pretentious. The lyrics, though angsty, flow and are catchy. They’ve got a really good sense of balance.
On Television we are reminded of how caught up we get in looking good, like the people in magazines, and how we can speak so lowly of ourselves.
In a time of political unrest and social change, Idles remind us that music still unites us. The album is abrasive yet cohesive, angry yet direct, but most importantly raw and honest. Idles have made the most essential record of the year.