It's hard to be human sometimes. When things are really bad, it can feel like a long, cruel joke, ricocheting between an uninspiring 9 to 5, the open-mouthed despair of the daily news cycle and the constant fear of loss, heartbreak and mortality that so often clouds our consciousness.
To temper that, there are the good parts. A kind act from a stranger, a job well done, a piece of art created out of the darkness that reaches out like an old friend. Idles are a band who have never minded showing their scars, and on their second record, 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance', any remaining fourth wall crumbles to dust at their feet as they celebrate their stark intent to thrive, held up by the support of their community.
Any album that opens with the relentless juggernaut that is ‘Colossus' is one that is unlikely to come quietly, but while the hefty riffs and comedic turns of 2017's 'Brutalism' are still very much in place, ‘Joy…' is the sound of a band who want to use their voice for a greater good. While ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm' ruminates on Love Island, Topshop Tyrants and past boyhood with the blend of wisdom and silliness that made their name, ‘June' is something else entirely, a heart-stabbing memory of a still-born daughter that worries away in your head days after listening. It's the softest thing they've ever done, and all the more haunting for it.
Telling the tales of immigrant friends (‘Danny Nedelko'), the demonization of council estate occupation (‘I'm Scum') and the true cost of toxic masculinity (‘Samaritans'), over breakneck, spitball melodies, it would be easy to peg Idles as gobby left-wing punks on a soapbox, but what they offer is so much more than that. Admitting their flaws but hoping for better, they lay out everything that it means to be a man, to be a minority, to be a human in a screwy world, to be flesh and blood with real feelings and fears and hopes and anger. Vulnerability has never been so imminently loveable, inspiring, and best of all, presented in a manner that means just as much alone in a quiet bedroom as it does in the middle of a moshpit with all your best friends. If joy is indeed an act of resistance, then this is the band you want at the helm of the new age.