Great music doesn’t have to make you feel good. If it did, Ornette Coleman was a hack, Stravinsky is a nobody, and every metal fan in the world would throw away their copies of Master of Reality. It’s readily accepted in other kinds of art outside of music–people don’t talk about how good it felt when they saw Picasso’s Guernica, and most probably don’t feel good after watching a Cronenberg film. Now, I’m not suggesting that Bristol’s IDLES have fundamentally rearranged our understanding of music like Stravinsky and Coleman did, but punk music as a whole certainly did. Well, does, because IDLES and their contemporaries are proving that punk is indeed not dead. In fact, it’s the best it has been in a long time.
As I said, I don’t feel good when I listen to IDLES. It’s more like a violent seesaw between anger and catharsis, and there’s a lot to be angry about lately. Frontman Joe Talbot’s sardonic Bristol swagger is the perfect conduit to air the grievances of a generation for whom unprecedented crises have become routine. Myopic business practices are killing the planet, the recent political landscape in both the UK and US revealed, just beneath the surface, a festering mass of misanthropy halting social progress, and of course, we’ve all been cooped up for over a year to ponder on our self-made apocalypse.
IDLES will make you uncomfortable–and that’s a good thing. In the face of potentially cataclysmic world problems, the worst thing one can be is apathetic. Punk has always been a rallying force for disaffected youth; it forces us to confront the ugly realities by sonically bashing our faces in. Despite this, it is not music that nurtures despondence–it’s the music of action and an antidote for nihilism. Great punk music has been made during times of relative calm, but in times like these, it’s essential. So get out of your comfort zone and check out their performance in Studio 1A below–IDLES will deliver the prognostics of hope.
IDLES release their new album, CRAWLER, this Friday, November 12 on Partisan Records.
“The Beachland Ballroom”
Joe Talbot, vocals; Jon Beavis, drums; Mark Bowen, guitar; Adam Devonshire, bass; Lee Kiernan, guitar
Engineer: Jake Perlman; Producer: Deidre Gott; Cameras: Michael Minasi; Patricia Lim, James Christenson; Video Edit: Patricia Lim