Bristol band Idles takes punk rock into the mainstream

By Nick Piccinino

Although it has been a band for over seven years, Bristol-based punk band Idles has garnered mainstream appeal in the past two years. With the release of their album “Brutalism” released in 2017, Idles injected the music scene with brash, poignant songs full of political and social commentary. The band is comprised of lead singer, Joe Talbot, guitar players, Mark Bowen and Lee Kieran, bass player, Adam Devonshire, and drummer, Jon Beavis. Idles has returned with its follow-up album “Joy as an Act of Resistance” released on August 31, 2018.

In an interview with Clash Music, the band said that it started when Talbot and Devonshire met one another in college in Exeter. They wanted to start  playing music that would set them apart from local indie bands that they found boring and stale. The rest of the band came together and began writing music shortly after. After putting out a couple EPs, the band salvaged inspiration after devastating life events. During the recording of “Brutalism,” Talbot was dealing with his mother’s terminal illness as well as a slew of other problems. Violent instrumentation and vocals are layered with lyrics filled with themes of depression, isolation, anger and sarcasm. The music video for their song “Mother”  shows Talbot standing in front of a giant picture of his mother while smashing fine china. The debut album was met with high accolades, which gave them the opportunity to open a show for the Foo Fighters last year.

With the release of “Joy as an Act of Resistance,” Idles regrouped and changed their approach to songwriting. “The stuff we were writing wasn’t awful, but it didn’t feel right,” Bowen said in an interview with NME. “It’s [Joy as an Act of Resistance] just about a burst of joy, and I hope that come[s] across on the album.” The messages found in the album differ from track to track. The song “Samaritans” approaches and challenges the ideas of traditional masculinity in society by pointing out how masculine stereotypes are the reason that “You’ll never see your father cry.” “Colossus” explores the dark and murky world of substance abuse over top of heavy, foreboding guitar riffs. Stand out track “Danny Nedelko” is a song about the power of love and unity that touts a pro immigration lense.

Idles is a refreshing voice in the world of punk music that is loud, brash and abrasive, while simultaneously promoting positivity and unity. It’s a rare thing to hear a song that makes you want to both mosh and hug your neighbor.


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