Post-punkers Idles are starting to carry some heavy baggage around with them but are making the burden look rather easy. Touted by scenesters as the next big thing out of the west, they wear this title with ease, although one does get the impression this is mainly down the fact that they couldn’t give a rats arse about what anyone thinks. But, do they live up to the hype? On the evidence of debut album Brutalism, the answer is yes.
A perfectly named record, there is a brutal simplicity to this. No frills are added, no punches are pulled and no fucks are given. This is punk in the truest sense and it makes a mockery of all the plastic punks out there with their syrupy melodies and laddish songs. Why bother saying something if you are not going to shout it out? Sod passive-aggressive keyboard warrioring, Idles want to get up in your face and spit their point at you. This is discourse with discord, political and social commentary to make your ears bleed.
Idles are very much a band of now, a product of these times of inequality, division and unrest. Brutalism is a searing indictment of life in Britain in 2017, a furious situation report on the state of the nation, and it is not a moment too soon, I had begun to wonder when all the anger that is around would start inspiring and motivating artists and musicians. Disorientating, gritty and laced with a dark humour (one of my favourite lines of the year so far appears in new single ‘Stendhal Syndrome’; “Did you see that painting that Rothko did? It looks like it was painted by a two-year-old kid”) – this is a furious and relentless piece of work.
Taking the best sneering punk of the classic era (Stiff Little Fingers, Sham 69, Dead Kennedys, The Exploited etc.) and diluting it down to its purest, most malevolent essence before adding destructive doses of the likes of Big Black and Black Flag has resulted in a powerful and vitriolic sound bolted on to the nihilistic lyrical sentiment – dare to imagine Sleaford Mods backed by Steve Albini with lyrics written by George Orwell. If that sounds like a great idea, then welcome aboard the ride. Hold tight, it could get rough.
Brutalism is out on 10th March via Balley Records.