By Jason Herring, October 3 2018 —
Through two albums, Bristol punk quartet IDLES have proven they’re not scared to tackle tough subjects. Their 2017 debut, Brutalism, occupied itself with death and addiction. Their sophomore release, Joy as an Act of Resistance, universalizes the band’s energy, dealing instead with political issues like Brexit, income inequality and the perpetual fight against white supremacist shitheads.
Though joy is far from the pervading sonic mood of the album, the name emphasizes the band’s belief in the catharsis of brooding, manic punk music.
Despite the album’s political stylings, its messages are fairly straightforward. “Danny Nedelko,” for instance, takes aim at the manufactured panic of the United Kingdom’s quote-unquote immigration crisis, while “Television” is a simple reflection on the effect of beauty standards on self-esteem.
The best moment, however, is a full-on repurposing of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” into a refrain about curb-stomping Nazis. These moments make the album fun as hell.
Amid innumerable injustices, letting yourself experience visceral moments of joy is an act of defiance. That’s an experience that punk music facilitates, and few bands are creating those moments with the intensity and passion of IDLES.