Photo by Stephanie Elizabeth Third
An infestation of the senses, a raw roar on all our responsibilities, and a contagious noise fuelled trespass on everything in between, Brutalism is one of the essential incitements of not only 2017 but we would suggest the decade as a whole. The debut album from British quintet Idles rips into personal and social issues with the insatiable attitude and defiance unleashed in the late seventies, its irritable sound as much punk rock rage as it is a post punk/noise rock enslaving of the imagination and psyche.
Each song from the Bristol five-piece of Joe Talbot, Mark Bowen, Lee Kiernan, Adam Devonshire, and Jon Beavis is a creative growl, a visceral antagonism with an infectious edge and mischief just as bruising and incisive. Dedicated in part to the loss of Talbot’s mother, who adorns the record’s cover, Brutalism is stretched with such invasive treats, from start to finish a mordant adventure, challenge, and accusation as witty as it is vicious, as devilish as it is ferocious. With Idles in the early days of an UK tour, their first album is sure to see it’s already eagerly devoured and anticipated 25 dates embraced by even greater fevered support.
Straight away band and album show uniqueness within a proposition which also swiftly inspires thoughts of bands such as The Fall, Swell Maps, and early The Horrors. There is so much more to it though as that originality shows, opener Heel_Heal cantankerously striding from an initial dispute with an intrusively nagging riff and rhythmic tenacity which alone lures keen attention as Talbot’s equally confrontational vocals snarl. Punk rock infested with crabbily textured noise, the track rumbles and grumbles; band vocals as anthemically rousing and spiteful as the general character of the outstanding starter.
Fellow Bristolians, The St Pierre Snake Invasion also come to mind with the song and successor Well Done, the second a sonically twisted and lyrically spiky shuffle making use of body and imagination like a peeved puppeteer. Its persistent jabs tenderise the senses for the scourges of sound which erupt to further scorch, Idles pressing all the right buttons for lusty reactions before uncaging the equally enslaving Mother. An irresistible bassline cores the next track, its dark tempting soon surrounded by swinging beats and scuzzy riffs, all uniting with Artery meets Gang Of Four scented tempestuousness. Again no punches in sound and word are pulled, one of numerous traits within the Idles sound which leaves there little to be taken lightly but plenty to find a seriously keen appetite for.
Date Night reveals a tango loaded with a rhythmic incitement which barely stays in the same place more than a second or two, its beats on hot coals but with a composure which aligns perfectly with the monotone growl of the bass. As guitars saunter and blaze, Talbot magnetically assaults with word and character, the volatile squall of the track then emulated in its own way by Faith In the City and its post punk ‘n’ roll causticity. A rousing irritant exposing essences hinting at bands such as again Artery and The Nightingales, submission to its lively acerbic inducement is quick and just as rapid as next up 1049 Gotho waltzes with irritated intent and pounding beats into ears and psyche. For all it and the other song’s choleric probing and inventive dexterity, sonic squeals a delight, there is a melodic lining which as subtle as it might be at times just inflames the catchiness and adventure of all escapades.
Wiry tendrils have ears encroached and alive as Divide & Conquer rises with its own particular grumble of sound, the guitars creating a web of raw enticement as bass and beats prowl with a testy air, Talbot stalking it all with his increasingly compelling tones. The increase in energy and ferociousness only adds to the captivation before Rachel Khoo and Stendahl Syndrome irascibly serenade and fractiously critiques respectively; both unloading their sonic and lyrical venom with snappy and quarrelsome devilry.
Next up Exeter has a slightly lazier gait but still imposes its punk ‘n’ roll canter with addiction forging rhythmic cunning as guitars and vocals get under the skin with their respective exploits like a Fatima Mansions/ Big Black collusion exploring creatively fresh impositions. Both tracks leave an already greedy appetite hungry for more, a lust more than fed by the kinetic stomp and sonic psychosis of Benzocaine and equally by the punk grumble and waspish word prowess of White Privilege.
Idles leave their arguably greatest moment for its final track, though each listen only elevates another moment to drool over. Slow Savage is a haunting dyspeptically lined embrace living up to its title as keys and voice fill the low-key and stark atmospheric mist hugging the imagination as a heartbeat of rhythm throbs. It is a dark, melancholic rapture violating as much as seducing the senses and a thrilling end to one exceptional release.
Being truly excited by something new or unique is a treat rarely found these days, Idles though have cracked that desire in fine style with Brutalism.
Brutalism is out now on Balley Records through iTunes and other stores.
Upcoming Dates on the Brutalism Tour…
Thursday 16th – Brighton – The Prince Albert
Friday 17th – Tunbridge Wells – Forum
Saturday 18th – Bedford – Esquires
Monday 20th – Oxford – The Bullingdon
Tuesday 21st – Sheffield – The Plug
Wednesday 22nd – Newcastle Upon Tyne – Think Tank
Thursday 23rd – Aberdeen – Tunnels
Friday 24th – Dundee – Buskers
Saturday 25th – Edinburgh – Sneaky Pete’s
Monday 27th – York – The Crescent
Tuesday 28th – Hull – The Adelphi
Wednesday 29th – Nottingham – The Bodega
Thursday 30th – Liverpool – O2 Academy 2
Friday 31st – Wakefield – Unity Hall
Monday 3rd – Stoke-On-Trent – The Sugarmill
Tuesday 4th – Preston – Guildhall
Wednesday 5th – Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach
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Pete RingMaster 14/03/2017
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