Album Review: Idles – Brutalism

mix it all up idles brutalism reviewBrutalism’. An album that truly lives up to its name. It’s noisy, organised chaos and an uproar in response to popular culture, politics and life in general. An unruly “fuck you” to the turbulent, unstable happenings in 2016. The album, which is set for release on 10th March is Idles first effort, a very ferocious, raging one at that where each track on this album is an individual ball of suppressed energy and anger.

Album opener ‘Heel/Heal’ begins with a shout-y intro, with snapping, quick drums. Quickly joined by snarling vocals, it’s clear that this album is going to live up to its name. It’s hard-hitting, fast-paced and has a rather hypnotic, yet urgent quality to it by the end, especially regarding the backing vocals. It’ll wake you up, that’s for sure!

Cross The Clash with The Specials and you’ll get pretty darn close to ‘Well Done’. It’s bouncy and has lyrics about popular culture, name-dropping many people throughout such as Trevor Nelson and Mary Berry for example. The lyrics are so clever that they actually made me smile. The track is accompanied by driving guitar rhythms and layered squealing guitars.

‘Mother’is rumbling, throbbing basslines. It’s got a brash, recklessness about it and attempts to tackle/make people aware of political issues, especially through the likes of the lyrics: “The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”. It’s repetitive though, and if nothing else, gets its point across. ‘Date Night’ is energetic, rough with almost gruff, dry, barking choruses. Raucous, harsh, husky and rasping with desperation throughout. Overall catchy as anything.

Of all of the tracks, I feel like ‘Faith In The City’ actually links back to ‘Heel/Heal’ with the “I’ve got a job in the city” reference, whether this is intentional or not. By this point in the album, I found that the songs seemed to get quite similar and repetitive throughout, but it works as I guess it reflects the monotony of real life. The lyrics change to a less optimistic “there’s no jobs in the city” nearer the end.

With ‘1049 Gotho’s darker, driving instrumentation comes crude, no shame lyrics. But moving quickly on from here… With its industrious drumming and aggressive guitars ‘Divide & Conquer’ is mostly instrumental with very few vocals, just repetitions of grunts, “divide” and “conquer” for the first half of the track. It’s also completely anarchic, chaotic and rampageous by the end.

Featuring bouncy drums, with an exuberant, pop-y chorus, ‘Rachel Khoo‘ is slightly more pleasant in comparison to the rest of ‘Brutalism’, but it’s still got a boisterous edge. The whole album is quite similar overall, but then it does have random aspects added in like the catchy, pop chorus in the previous track. ‘White Privilege’ has a dry humour to it and is very much laden with sarcasm. This is also prevalent across the rest of the album, but it’s very much rife on this track. Along with the rest of ‘Brutalism’, this track ends in turmoil and anarchy.

Overall, ‘Brutalism’ has boundless energy, and if anything far too much angst, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole album is actually very similar throughout, there’s nothing new or groundbreaking and it’s rather hard to listen through in one go due to it being quite indistinguishable. That being said, some tracks such as ‘Rachel Khoo’ do actually break it up a bit. Think about contemporaries such as Slaves, but add Fat White Family and then Life on top of that, but heavier, more chaotic, more angry and you’re halfway there. ‘Brutalism’ is blunt, to the point and raw. I can only imagine the energy the band have live, just from this record alone.


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