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Punk Lyricism Returns with Idles’ “Joy as an Act of Resistance”

The+Bristol%2C+U.K+band+released+their+sophomore+effort+on+August+31st+%2C+2018
The Bristol, U.K band released their sophomore effort on August 31st , 2018

The Bristol, U.K band released their sophomore effort on August 31st , 2018

The Bristol, U.K band released their sophomore effort on August 31st , 2018

By Wyatt Zwik, Academics Editor

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Punk’s not dead according to band Idles, hailing from Bristol, England, who’ve proven it with the release of their sophomore album Joy as an Act of Resistance.

Idles smashed onto the scene with their fittingly-named 2017 debut Brutalism, a rage-filled tirade against the state of politics in their home country and various social issues. The album featured the savage guitar riffs of traditional punk rock, with eclectic influences from the more groovy, industrial sounds of post-punk.

On Joy as an Act of Resistance, the band has evolved and now bring more blatantly political yet still meaningful lyrics into the foldThe band shreds any notion of a “sophomore slump,” providing high octane punk rock thrills with ever relevant critiques of toxic masculinity, Brexit, and the media, all while still sending a message of hope and unity through singer Joe Talbot’s sarcasm-induced delivery.

The album kicks off with the track “Colossus,” which progresses from a slow-moving trudge and culminates in a traditional high energy punk rock anthem, providing an excellent opener to the album. This is followed by the hilariously biting “Never Fight a Man With a Perm,” the first track to dive into the prevalent topic of toxic masculinity, with lyrics such as “You look like a walking thyroid/You’re not a man, you’re a gland.”

Despite the usually enraged sounds of the album, the track “Danny Nedelko” is an uplifting ode to immigration. This track is a shining example of the lyricism of Idles, including lines such as “He’s made/of bones, he’s made of blood/ He’s made of flesh, he’s made of love/He’s made of you, he’s made of me/Unity!”

The track “Samaritans” is another scathing critique of toxic masculinity, using phrases traditionally being associated with “manning up,” and criticizing the “mask of masculinity” many boys are often told to wear when growing up, and the effects of that mask on boys’ overall character.

Instrumentally, the band consistently provides blistering punk rock thrills and frills, with visceral production values. However, some of the tracks do sound somewhat similar. They are still high-quality, well put together tracks, but towards the back end, the album can get repetitive.

The album truly succeeds lyrically. Whether it be biting sarcasm, unadulterated rage, or even the hauntingly dark standout track “June,” about Talbot’s stillborn child. Idles are candid in their beliefs, and unabashedly critique what they see fit.

While not reinventing the punk rock wheel, Joy as an Act of Resistance is an album desperately needed with its message of the importance of unity and community in the face of xenophobia and ignorance. As Talbot sums up the theme of the album, “we’re all in this together.”

Standout tracks: Danny Nedelko, Television, & Great.

I give this album a 9/10.

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