22 April 2017

Idles - Brutalism

Idles are one of those bands which seem to court either devotion or hatred, opinions tend to differ depending on the person I’m talking to. Everyone has a distinctive reaction, and I think that as an alternative punk/noise band, you need to have those extremes of opinion.  After seeing them in Newcastle last month, I was convinced that they are one of the best bands currently touring at the moment; a few people I was with held different views on the matter, but the conversation that followed was really interesting as the band caused strong reactions.  No-one said that they were an average band, which is always a good sign.  Now, some of my friends were not too impressed, some were raving about them (me included), and we all agreed that they were an intense live act. Hailing from Bristol, this is their debut release, and it has certainly been gaining a lot of attention.  However, sometimes a great live band does not necessarily translate well onto the recorded album.  Will that be the case here?

01 – Heel/Heal

With a scream of protest, 'Heel/Heal' opens the album with a vicious shot of adrenaline that sounds as fierce recorded as it did when performed live.  Its a nasty little song, one that feels like someone is terminally pissed off and is going to let the world know about it with very precise and vivid details.  Its a huge song and makes an immediate impact; it sounds like hell has been unleashed.

02 – Well Done

This song is one that I keep changing my mind about - apparently, Tarquin, Mary Berry, Trevor Nelson, and everyone else, like things that some people could not give two shits about.  Its repetitive and can become too much -if looped for a long period of time to review- but it is still a ferocious and passionate number.

03 – Mother

This is quite possibly the strongest song on the album, a song that has some thought provoking lyrics; work conditions for females, scaring Tories (love those lyrics), knowledge and how to use it.  The bite to the vocals will knock holes in walls, the bass line is pumping, and the guitars sound as if they are coming from the depths of the void.  Its a really towering song, and might be hard to top.

04 – Date Night

'Date Night' sounds like it has been constructed with the use of many chemicals and alcoholic fluids, and after witnessing their love of Buckfast, this song makes a lot more sense.  It has that stop/start punk thing going on, the riff is chopped into pieces, and the bass/drum combo holds the whole song together.  But the more I listen to it, the more it sounds like the Fall on steroids.  That is not a bad thing in my books.

05 – Faith in the City

'Faith in the City' looks at faith and delivers a sarcastic and biting sermon on religion, humanity, and the need to avoid thinking about the void.  Its harsh, sarcastic and as fierce as it comes, all wrapped up in a swirling chaotic vortex of noise that loops around you so many times that it makes you dizzy.

06 – 1049 Gotho

Dysfunctional relationships are sometimes doomed to fall apart, and end up being a pull on your life, even if there is sex or love involved.  This song has captured that sort of empty and soulless union, with a whirlwind of noise, that centres on a high harmonic riff with some old grunge over-tones thrown in.  A bit of post punk and a fuck load of noise.

07 – Divide & Conquer

Now this is a song that has swagger and huge balls, that is the only way to describe the riff/bass combination at the beginning of this song. It starts with a bang and the band ride it all the way through the song.  It does not stray very far from that opening riff, and it doesn't need to when it sounds this good.  If anything, its one of the songs on the album that could have been extended. Short but still sounds mighty.

08 – Rachel Khoo

Bathed in feedback, droning bass, loud drums and bared vocals, 'Rachel Khoo' keeps the pace of this album frantic and fierce.  Its a decent number, but after the previous seven it feels like a slight break.  In a given sense of the word obviously, its still as spiky as a studded punk rock mosh pit.

09 – Stendhal Syndrome

According to Wikipedia, 'Stendhal Syndrome' is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art.  I can understand this sort of thing, but I understand the rant against art that is presented in this song.  Some of it is overpriced shit, some of its genius as well, but there is a lot of crap out there.  However, this song is a fantastic statement about how pretentious art can be. Some people will not see that, and I love the irony, because in one way or another, music is also held as another form of art.

10 – Exeter

With a reversed vocal opening, ‘Exeter’ opens with an indie swagger, which feels like a deluded daydream of garish noise with surreal manic undertones.  The song is about being in a place where nothing happens apart from bar fights and drinking, and sounds like lots of places all over the UK to be honest, with young men trying to prove how “manly” they are.  Its such a strong song on this album, as it doesn't rely on just the sheer power of noise that drives most of the songs on this album.  I think it could be a sleeper hit for the album (as ‘Mother’ is just too damn strong to ignore as song of the album).

11 – Benzocaine

Another song which takes a different approach to their sound, but without fucking with that formula that has driven the album thus far.  Its a snarling song that has some fantastic hooks with its post rock & stoner rock overtones, the lyrics speak of loss and memories.  This is a great song, nothing more to be said on the matter.

12 – White Privilege

A song about life in a white society, its not done without irony, and its sarcastic as fuck.   Its biting, and the message will be lost on a few people, but thats their loss as this is as hard hitting as anything else on this album.  Its a truly fantastic song, one which deserves attention.

13 – Slow Savage

Ending this song is this slow and harrowing account of a doomed relationship, which does not have many redeeming features according to the lyrical content of the song.  Its about a person who is out of control, disengaged to the relationship, and basically a little bit of a shit.  This is a completely different song from anything else on the album, a pausing jolt that stops this manic train dead in its tracks and ends the album on a dark note.

Idles have made one of the best debut albums I have heard in ages, its vicious and snarling, with a hint of post punk attitude added to the noise.  They may have been created in the Bristol Indie scene, but they are so much more than just another indie band.  They will stand out of the crowd and grab attention, as they terrify weaker mortals.  If there was anything I would have to nag about its that the tracks are a tiny bit samey in places, but that is just me looking for faults to be honest.  Just purchase this album, turn it up loud, and annoy the living fuck out of everyone in your neighbourhood.  Also, try to catch them live, as they are a bonkers act worth seeing.

8.5 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track - Mother

You can visit the Idles website here which has a link to the webstore as well.

You can purchase the digital version of Brutalism (or pre-order the CD version) on Amazon here.

You can follow the activities of Idles on Facebook here.

You can stream Brutalism on Spotify here.

You can stream Brutalism on Deezer here.

You can stream Brutalism on Tidal here.

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