IDLES: Five Years of Brutalism (Partisan) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Five Years of Brutalism


Dec 09, 2022 Web Exclusive
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In the five years since the appearance of the debut album by Bristol’s most beloved sons, IDLES have become a juggernaut of politicized, uproarious punk rock. They’re a band that take the most abrasive sounds, the darkest themes, and the most guttural of emotions and turn them, alchemically, into pop music. In highlighting their own flaws and weaknesses, and amplifying them a hundredfold, they’ve found a commonality, a bond with their audience that borders on the healthier side of cultdom.

Their 2017-released debut, Brutalism, here nicely repackaged with fresh artwork and a scorching live rendition of the album captured at Glastonbury, is a relentless, abrasive roar of a record that screams into the abyss, daring the abyss to scream back. Characterizing the album perfectly, “Mother” is a careening car wreck of a song that pinballs from pithy platitudes (“The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”) to self-deprecating humor (“I know nothing/I’m just sitting here looking at pretty colors”), finally landing on that artless, primal chorus cry of “Mother/Fucker.”

With apparent influences from The Melvins, At the Drive-In, and Black Flag, their sound, particularly on “Heel/Heal” and “Divide & Conquer,” is a metallic clash of spiraling guitars, hefty bass, and apocalyptic drums. Elsewhere, on the positively jaunty “Well Done” and scarred closer “Slow Savage,” the band show real depth, wit and passion.

While 2021’s CRAWLER is probably their best album and 2018’s Joy as an Act of Resistance undoubtedly their biggest, Brutalism is their most nakedly honest, their most searing, and, just like it says on the tin, their most brutal. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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