Album Review | IDLES Bare Their Soul On Joy as an Act of Resistance

IDLES’ 12-track brand-new album, Joy as an Act of Resistance, has taken the band in a new direction with their music. The album is vulnerable and encouraging. It addresses themes of class, immigration, toxic masculinity, and nationalism.

The album’s first taster was the pro-immigration single ‘Danny Nedelko’, that they named in honour of their friend, originally from Ukraine, and fellow singer of band Heavy Lungs who will support IDLES on their UK world tour. Danny also features in the music video that was self-directed by the band. “Fear leads to panic / Panic leads to pain / Pain leads to anger / Anger leads to hate,” frontman Joe Talbot sings about the depressing negative current state of affairs. And if this song was anything to go on for the album, it surely adds hype.

The opening track ‘Colossus’ lives up to it’s fascinating name, both lyrically and musically. It begins with tapping drumsticks and a riff as Joe repeatedly sings, “it goes and it goes and it goes,” before the moment intensifies. And before the song closes, he sings, “putting homophobes in coffins,” advocating a chaotic movement.

‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ has a delightful delivery and kicks off with great lyrics like, “You are a Top Shop tyrant, even your haircut’s violent,” over an infectious guitar and rhythm.


‘I’m Scum’ has an upbeat, vibrant instrumental with a bouncy bassline leading upto the chorus, Joe spits, “dirty rotten filthy scum.”

‘Love Song’ has a sentimental vibe to it. It has everything you would expect from an adoring song. It fits perfectly into the record as it has something different, but similar tastes to the rest of the song collection.

The first five-tracks barely give the listener time to breathe with the inspiring and uptempo instrumental. This sophomore album meets expectations and is an astonishing release from IDLES.

‘June’ brings the tone down as the band discusses an agonising and catastrophic pain that needed time to heal. As Joe and his wife suffered a great loss last year, experiencing something traumatic, he talks through being indulgent and weak around his loved ones, but coming through the other side feeling alive and finally healing.

‘Samaritans’ encourages being honest and open while allowing emotions to flow. It discusses the aforementioned topic of toxic masculinity. It finds the band questioning why men are told they should shut off from their emotions, they wonder, “This is why you never see your father cry.”

‘Television’ was written about Joe’s daughter and continues the idea on accepting and loving yourself wholeheartedly. He sings, “If someone talked to you the way you do to you, I’d put their teeth through, love yourself,” expanding on the avocating idea to feel free.

‘Great’ lives up to its title. It positivity discusses a tackling subject like Brexit with a clear vision and open mind without throwing blame or hate. The tongue in cheek lyrics and vocals manage to secure the song with extra flavouring.

It seems the band wanted to illustrate a gruesome story on ‘Gram Rock’ about cocaine in all its savage arrogance and lacklustre wit. The overall listen is hard-hitting to anyone with addiction, or knows of someone who a similar story. But it truthfully tells a situation that no one wants to be in.

‘Cry To Me’ is a heartfelt song that reflects of 50s rock n’ roll that almost feels like a part two of the ‘Samaritans’.

Closing out the record is ‘Rottweiler’, ending Joy as an Act of Resistance, a high note.

Each track is stripped back from what fan’s are used to as IDLES bare their souls and celebrate their differences. Frontman Joe Talbot spoke about the album’s inspirations, he said it, “act as an ode to communities and the individuals that forge them. Because without our community, we’d be nothing.”

Throughout Joy as an Act of Resistance, it’s not hard to believe their every word. Each beat capture’s the listener’s attention making them want to dance out their aggression and angst, almost like a therapy session. Every emotion is conveyed in a delicate, truthful way that brings the band and their fans together like a community.

Their take on punk rock mixed with moody instrumental combined with their purposeful lyrics prove this band has it all going on. The heaviness they bring is refreshing with a sound that is arguably capable of being imitated on the alternative scene.

This album is their most vital record of their career; it’s fun, sad and everything in-between that leaves a memorable impression after the first listen.

IDLES do something new and different with punk as they take a fresh approach to their content, ideas and sound without being clichés and predictable.

Musically, each beat is hard-hitting met with creative hooks, a gentle bassline, and wonderful guitar riffs. They have a good variety of music flavours and the way they pull it off is fantastic. They bring a new level of wholesomeness on Joy as an Act of Resistance.

They are clever with their lyrics adding angry, funny and observational storylines throughout the 12-tracks. They bare their souls, discuss heartache, being sad and messed-up while diving through their personal lives and political issues.

The twelve songs that make up Joy as an Act of Resistance, are special. IDLES spread awareness on social and political issues, remain brutally honest, and appear to have a solid collection of tracks to showcase to the world on where they want to take the band’s music to date.

It’s impossible not to get caught up in every beat and the energy each track has. It’s a total banger from start to finish. And although the album as a whole is dark, the band’s honesty, intelligence and wit shines through the hard moments maintaining infectious positivity.

It’s definitely one of the most inspiring releases of the year thus far. IDLES have reinvented punk rock while evolving and maturing their songwriting and sound. They take into account their every emotion while exposing their broken hearts while creating such a beautiful body of work. Overall, Joy as an Act of Resistance, is a remarkable album from the IDLES.

IDLES are a self-proclaimed ‘angry band’ from Bristol, Southwest England. They formed back in 2010. Joy as an Act of Resistance, follows their critically-acclaimed debut album Brutalism.