IDLES ‘Brutalism’ – Album Review

reviews ‘Brutalism’ is the sound of a confrontational outfit, taking the unsettling reality of today’s world

When associated with architecture, the term ‘brutalism’ depicts a stark style, characterised by the use of steel and concrete in monumentally large blocks.

This savage and cruel imagery is an accurate personification of the gargantuan sound which comes from the Bristolians on their aptly-named debut. This is a piece of aggressive art that embodies the very components of it’s urbanised theme; robust and muscular, with a tremendous appearance of power. It’s delivery is often rotten and menacing, which makes it all the more compelling.

The band briefly touch on the subject of political and economical matters throughout ‘Brutalism’. Saying, “The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich” in ‘Mother’ and in ‘Rachel Khoo’, the listener is reassured that “You ain’t a problem if you’re not paying tax”. They’ve also previously mentioned that ‘Divide and Conquer’ is a commentary on the state of the National Health Service. With their finger on the pulse of current matters, they address the issues at the heart of the wider British public in an aggressive, artistic manner.

A drab of dark English humour underlies the entire body of written work from Joe Talbot. He tackles class and social structure in ‘White Priviledge’, when delivering the line “How many optimists does it take to change a lightbulb? None! Their butler changes the lightbulb”. Flitting between topical references (student loans, miscarriages, abortions, degrees, jobs, and salaries), he dryly compensates with humour on some of middle England’s dramas, from national crises to the kitchen sink alike. It’s fascinating and enthralling listening, which is balanced well with the invasive foray of bristly instrumentation.

Talbot’s snarl is most prominent on ‘1049 Gotho’ when delivering lines like “He won’t last five fucking minutes with a body like mine / and a mind like mine”. The whole piece is echoed with the scrawl of Mark Bowen’s guitar, which sounds as if it’s white-whistling to breaking point through a series of warm, broken valves. The unruliness of treble is cemented by the rhythm section, who rumble on, holding Bowen from the sinkhole of his Tesla-esque madness.

Overall, ‘Brutalism’ is the sound of a confrontational outfit, taking the unsettling reality of today’s world, and putting it into their own music to produce a frantic assault on the senses. This band deserve your full and undivided attention. But don’t piss them off even more. They’re pretty scary as it is.”

‘Brutalism’ is out March 10th
IDLES play The Portland Arms on March 6th, tickets here

Words from Jack Stevens

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