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Rock - Released September 25, 2020 | PTKF

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After toiling in obscurity for nearly a decade, the Bristol, England, band Idles broke through in 2017—earning accolades for their big, heavy, ferocious sound (singer Joe Talbot has vehemently, repeatedly rejected the easy "punk" label) and lyrics railing against toxic masculinity, white privilege and over-reaching government. In 2020, with their third album, IDLES is not saying anything many people aren't already feeling, but there's something undeniably cathartic about saying it with such fury: Sometimes it's just enough to yell out "This means war! Anti-war!" while klaxon guitars wail on the song "War," or "Consent! Consent! Consent! Consent!" on "Ne Touche Pas Moi" ("don't touch me"). Tapping into the Western world's emotional disorder of the moment, "Anxiety" spits: "Our government hates the poor/ Cold leaders' cold class war/ Given drugs you can't afford/ So the poor can't buy the cure." That reliable old chestnut of a punching bag, the British royal family, makes plenty of appearances, including on the sonar-warp "Reigns." "I'm guessing it is hard for you to see, that that that that empathy will kick down your throne," Talbot heckles the Windsors on "Kill Them With Kindness," which opens with a pretty jewel-box tune before sliding sideways into appealingly funky, Jesus Lizard-esque guitar and a strutting beat. And here's the thing: While Talbot gets all the front-man attention, it's the musicians who really shock and awe. Guitarists Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen create a dialogue of needling Wire-esque riffs on the irresistible "Model Village" ("Model low crime rate in the village/ Model race, model hate, model village," Talbot rails against mindless patriotism). Drummer Jon Beavis and bassist Adam Devonshire tattoo relentless, and relentlessly catchy, rhythm on tracks like "Anxiety" and "Grounds" ("Not a single thing has ever been mended/ by you standing there and saying you're offended," Talbot jeers on that one, taking a swipe at the trend of virtue-signaling). "Mr. Motivator" rides a wave of racing guitar and gun-shot drums to underscore Talbot's battle cry: "Let's seize the day/ all hold hands/ chase the pricks away." Absurdly coupling toxic masculinity and feminist power, Talbot chants,"Like Conor McGregor with a samurai sword on rollerblades/ Like Vasyl Lomachenko after four pints of Gatorade/ Like Kathleen Hanna with bear claws grabbing Trump by the pussy … Like Frida Kahlo painting 'arm the poor' on your fuck-off wall." Then he follows it all up with a wink: "How do you like them clichés?" And when things take a wild left turn with "A Hymn"—haunted by spooky, hazy guitars and droning lyrics—it's like everything goes out of focus for a minute. The change in perspective is not just a breather, it's a peek into what more these hard-chargers can offer. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 31, 2018 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 6, 2019 | PTKF

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For a band with a reputation built on their electric performance and inclusion, a record documenting their live show is oddly counterintuitive. Their performance is whole-hearted and explosive, no doubt, but Talbot's aptitude at making everyone feel special can only truly be felt live. Beautiful Thing serves admirably as a brief glimpse of the band riding a career high, at a point where they've transitioned from industry favorites to fan favorites. The set moves from strength to strength, but honestly, this is to be expected, as they made very few missteps on their first two records. Although this doesn't paint a complete picture, the recording does capture the added layers of dissonance and Talbot's erratic on-stage persona, as he switches from a snarling, sardonic showman to a political advocate to a humble bastion of the people; he proclaims, "I'm a feminist" directly before "Mother," but perhaps it's his effort to speak in French at regular intervals that best sums up Idles' live appeal: they're always willing to take that extra distance. Their brand of catharsis is on full display at the Bataclan, a symbolic venue in many ways, and by extracting the negativity of the political landscape and channeling it back as love they provide a brief window into the healing nature of their music; in this case, they magnify it for an even wider audience, re-creating the sensation of being in the room, but nothing will top the crackling angst and sweat-soaked unity they so prominently facilitate. © Liam Martin /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 10, 2017 | PTKF

To describe Idles as punk can be somewhat misleading, if only because it conjures images of late-'70s fashion and politics. However, they certainly inhabit the spirit of punk -- including the spittle-inducing vitriol and the acerbic lyrics -- but with a newfound energy that isn't trying to re-create an old aesthetic; instead, it's the sound of an angry band reacting to an increasingly tense and imbalanced world. On their debut album, they deftly walk the tightrope between tragedy and comedy, making it just as likely to rile you up as it is to make you laugh. This is exemplified on their breakthrough track, "Well Done," which sounds off on the rich elite's attitude and lack of understanding toward the poor, all the while sneering lines about Mary Berry's supposed love of reggae, just one example of the absurdist satire scattered throughout the record. That isn't to say Brutalism relies solely on contrasting dynamics; it backs up every gut punch and snigger with solid songwriting, featuring choruses that soar -- often ramping up the energy to frenzied levels -- and Joe Talbot's infectious lyrics that do more than enough to warrant snarling along with him. Every track is surprisingly dense, considering that Talbot doesn't waste time on long-winded wordy verses. His lyrics might even seem sparse at first, when in fact they contain a wealth of references -- specifically to U.K. political history and culture -- and can be interpreted in multiple ways. It's the razor-sharp precision of his words that allows for effective interlocking with the rest of the band, so much so that they seem to move through each song as a combined force of nature, matching tight yet crunchy instruments to the poignancy of every syllable. Everything is tailored toward delivering their message; whether it be about art ("Stendhal Syndrome") or religion ("Faith in the City"), they paint a bleak but relatable picture. Brutalism could have easily fallen into the trap of repeating itself, but every track has a personality. "1049 Gotho" is the most melodic, complete with a screeching Editors-esque chorus; "Divide and Conquer" slowly smothers, reflecting the suffocation of the NHS that the track confronts; "Mother" manages to combine a critique of voter apathy, a singalong expletive-filled chorus, and a tribute to Talbot's late mother into three and a half minutes. Perhaps Brutalism's most vital aspect is that it helps to articulate the anger -- an emotion often difficult to communicate effectively -- that the disenfranchised feel toward self-serving members of the elite; that it does this with intelligence, catharsis, and a wry smile makes for a necessary and thrilling listen from start to finish. © Liam Martin /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 30, 2015 | Balley Records

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Rock - Released August 4, 2012 | Balley Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 16, 2020 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2019 | False Idols

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Rock - Released May 19, 2020 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 2, 2019 | PTKF

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Rock - Released June 5, 2018 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 7, 2019 | PTKF

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Rock - Released August 11, 2020 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 19, 2019 | PTKF

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Rock - Released July 14, 2020 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 2019 | PTKF

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Rock - Released July 25, 2018 | PTKF

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Rock - Released May 30, 2018 | PTKF

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 14, 2018 | PTKF

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 22, 2012 | Filter Label

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Idles in the magazine
  • IDLES : F The System!
    IDLES : F The System! After toiling in obscurity for nearly a decade, the Bristol, England, band Idles broke through in 2017—earning accolades for their big, heavy, ferocious sound and lyrics railing against toxic masc...