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Idles - Brutalism (Album Review)

Thursday, 16 March 2017 Written by Laura Johnson

Prior to their debut LP taking shape, Idles’ journey was a slow burn. With two EPs in their back pocket, 2012’s ‘Welcome’ and 2015’s ‘Meat’, they should have been running into it head first, but instead they found themselves stagnant until logistical changes and the passing of vocalist Joe Talbot’s mother led to renewed urgency and ‘Brutalism’ becoming a cathartic release.

But, though references to the frontman’s loss do appear on the record, most notably in a solitary heartbreaking line on Divide & Conquer (“A loved one perished at the hand of the barren-hearted right.”) it doesn’t consume it. Even that track doubles as a dig at the government’s management of the deteriorating NHS, one of many political observations littered throughout the record. Mother, which you would think an obvious tribute, features the line “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”.

Talbot’s writing is candid and often confrontational, and much like the music that accompanies him his vocals have not been polished to within an inch of their life. The fact that the album was recorded live, allowing only three takes for each track, also plays its part in translating the intensity of the band’s performances to record.

Talbot’s vital delivery evokes images of him champing at the bit in the studio. That’s particularly true on Date Night, where he and bassist Adam Devonshire do the heavy lifting during the verses before an onrush of chaotic guitars from Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan. In fact, the guitars are a dominant force throughout. To single another song out, Faith In The City boasts punk and psychobilly-influenced lines that would stand up well against the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster in a Scott Pilgrim-esque riff off.

Another element that is prevalent on ‘Brutalism’ is repetition, which aids Idles in landing some well raised points and also helps to drive home the fact that nothing about the band is easy. Here they have managed to capture the chaos of their live shows and deliver a record that is as urgent as it is honest. That should not be overlooked.

Idles Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Thu March 16 2017 - BRIGHTON Prince Albert
Fri March 17 2017 - TUNBRIDGE WELLS Forum
Sat March 18 2017 - BEDFORD Esquires
Mon March 20 2017 - OXFORD Bullingdon
Tue March 21 2017 - SHEFFIELD Plug, The
Wed March 22 2017 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Think Tank?
Thu March 23 2017 - ABERDEEN Tunnels
Fri March 24 2017 - DUNDEE Redd Suite
Sat March 25 2017 - EDINBURGH Sneaky Pete's
Mon March 27 2017 - YORK Fulford Arms
Tue March 28 2017 - HULL Adelphi
Wed March 29 2017 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social Club
Thu March 30 2017 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy2 Liverpool
Fri March 31 2017 - WAKEFIELD Unity Works
Mon April 03 2017 - STOKE Sugarmill
Tue April 04 2017 - PRESTON Guildhall
Wed April 05 2017 - CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach

Click here to compare & buy Idles Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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