IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance. (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Joy as an Act of Resistance. (2018)


While Brutalism only came out in March 2017, for IDLES, it was many difficult years in the making. Still, when they announced they’d be following it up before this year’s end, it was easy to see why their fan base was so exited. The Bristol band has such a natural grip on raw punk rock. Brutalism showed that. Joy as an Act of Resistance takes that sentiment and grows it.

IDLES have crafted something special with Joy, an album about combating negativity with a positive outlook. A track like “Love Song” with its brutal, rolling drums and snarling vocals is dirty, beautiful and, like most of Joy’s twelve tracks, vulnerable. On their cover of “Cry to Me,” Talbot asks if you feel like crying with no irony whatsoever. “Television” finds him yelling, “I go outside and I feel free!” giving the song a giant cathartic chorus. But it’s “June,” Talbot’s song to his stillborn child, that resonates the loudest. It’s heartbreaking to hear him chant (the often Hemingway accredited), “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The song is so personal and defines IDLES’ commitment to channeling their grief into something more.

“Colossus,” the aptly named opening track, places a spotlight on the two most important aspects of Joy: Talbot’s lyricism and Jon Beavis’s drumming. Rimshots and spoken word begin the track before it ramps up to a final push well past the five-minute mark. On “I’m Scum,” Beavis takes on a more danceable beat until his fit of rage destroys his kit. That is the more consistent tempo on Joy and one that guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan know how to take advantage of (“Samaritans,” “Gram Rock”).

Joy as an Act of Resistance is a giant heaping of grade-A punk rock. It’s an ambitious project camouflaged as a more straightforward release not unlike their peers in Fucked Up. It’s no surprise this record sees IDLES getting wider recognition. They tackle everything from toxic masculinity (“Samaritans”) to immigration (“Danny Nedelko”) to fatherhood (“June”). Yet Joy as an Act of Resistance is a cohesive banner proving IDLES practice what they preach.