ALBUM: Joy As An Act Of Resistance – IDLES 31.08.18

IDLES / Lindsay Melbourne

Words by Emily Doyle / Pic by Lindsay Melbourne

I first encountered IDLES at All Years Leaving 2017. They headlined the Sunday night. I have vivid memories of Table Scrap’s Tim Mobbs, who was photographing the show, scrambling over the makeshift crowd barrier in a bid to save his camera from the chaos that erupted as soon as they began playing. A few songs in and I was hooked. These guys weren’t just some Bristolians with that one song about Mary Berry.

The elegantly titled Joy As An Act Of Resistance is IDLES’ second full length release, out from 31st  August on Partisan Records. It opens with the imposing ‘Colossus’, a five-and-a-half minute statement of intent to rival Refused’s ‘New Noise’. Sighing guitars underscore Joe Talbot’s drawl. The track reaches a dissonant crescendo, before unleashing a blast of the shout-along agit-punk that IDLES fans have been waiting for.

Joy As An Act Of Resistance flirts with hardcore and post punk in equal measure, but at its core is an album of protest music. Guttural backing vocals are woven throughout – the radio-friendly pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’ has two word chorus that’s made for a 2am Snobs crowd to chant along to. It’s shamelessly catchy. But throughout the record, guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan are there with a double attack of grinding fuzz and shrill stabs to stop the listener getting too comfortable.

It’s Talbot’s lyrics that take centre stage most of the time. Whether it’s personal or political (and more often than not, it’s both) his trademark wit is ever present. Talbot loves to create characters – in the acerbic ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’, he describes an unfortunate acquaintance as, “not a man but a gland… one big neck with sausage hands” and a “Topshop tyrant, even your haircut’s violent; you look like you’re from Love Island.” The face of modern masculinity is a fixation for Talbot – in ‘Colossus’ he sings, “I am my father’s son, his shadow weighs a tonne”, while IDLES’ recent single, ‘Samaritans’, dissects the pressures on young men today before dissolving into a chorus of “I kissed a boy and I liked it.”

IDLES rose to prominence singing that, “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”, and their socialist battle cry shows no signs of going quiet – as Talbot articulates in Joy As An Act Of Resistance’s jaunty ‘I’m Scum’, “this snowflake’s an avalanche.

The record isn’t all angry chanting. IDLES offer up an unhinged rendition of Solomon Burke’s 1961 soul hit ‘Cry To Me’, which nestles strangely comfortably amongst their tales of bravado and Brexit. There’s also space for Talbot to be characteristically raw. IDLES debut album, Brutalism, dealt with the death of his mother. Her portrait featured on the artwork, and a very limited run of the records had her ashes encased in the vinyl itself. On its release, Talbot admitted that, “people are a bit freaked out that this was a person. People are terrified of that physical link with death.” Since Brutalism, Talbot and his partner also lost their daughter, Agatha. In ‘June’, Talbot sings, “a stillborn, still born, I am a father” over a dirge of crackling synths. 

Joy As An Act Of Resistance is poised to cement IDLES as one of the UK’s great punk bands. There’s a seventy date world tour on the horizon too, coming to the O2 Institute in Birmingham on 26th October, and their fanclub on Facebook numbers over seven thousand and counting. Said fanclub call themselves the AF Gang, mostly talking music, mental health, and the poems of Dylan Thomas. IDLES’ influence is spreading, and it can only be a good thing.

‘Samaritans’ – IDLES

IDLES release Joy As An Act Of Resistance on 31st August, out through Partisan Records. For more on IDLES, including links to online sales, visit

IDLES play the O2 Institute in Birmingham on 26th October. For direct gig information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit


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EP: Five Songs – Youth Man 29.06.18

Five Songs – Youth Man 29.06.18

Words by Emily Doyle / Pics courtesy of Youth Man

When asked to review Youth Man’s newest release, Five Songs EP, I was apprehensive.

I’ve been a fan of Birmingham’s premier sex-punk outfit since my uni days. I mean, a turn up to every show wearing the t-shirt kind of a fan. Since I first heard them, they’ve toured with Sacramento’s Trash Talk. They’ve appeared on festival bills both home and away, and are set to play Afropunk Brooklyn 2018 this summer alongside Janelle Monae, Tyler The Creator, and Erykah Badu.

Youth Man‘s previous Venn Records release, Wax, went down in the Midland’s heavy history, along with its ode to Jeremy Corbyn. They even got the director of The Prodigy’s ‘Nasty’ music video, Oliver Jones, to animate the stop motion short for ‘Look/Wait’, which sees the then-trio abducted by aliens. (This inspired some clumsy questioning from Drowned In Sound’s International Women’s Day 2017 Round Table, resulting in guitarist Kaila Whyte telling them she wished she had “suction pads attached to (her) extremities.”)

I’ve also been impatient for the new EP, but my gut feeling was that I’d struggle to be a balanced, impartial listener. I mulled it over. If I review Five Songs I get my hands on it before the release date…

Five Songs begins with ‘Mainland’. Considering both Youth Man’s blistering live reputation, and the fact that this EP clocks a duration of under fifteen minutes, you’d expect them to come in all guns blazing. The opening melody of ‘Mainland’ is disarmingly fragile. It’s not long before Marcus Perks kicks in with a metallic beat on the drums, though. Familiar growling bass underpins Whyte’s vocals, which progress to a Gothic wail.

The majority of Five Songs was thoroughly road-tested, so anyone who’s seen Youth Man live in the last six months or so will recognise ‘Valley Girl’ as soon as they hear its frantic, one note guitar line. Dissonant as it may be, tracks like this showcase the group’s appreciation for a good old fashioned hook.

Stuttering, sing-a-long choruses, hand claps, and a committed middle-eight breakdown hold your hand through the textured math rock sound. The record’s lead single ‘I Don’t Know’ takes a similar approach. Doo-woppy backing vocals triumph over fuzzed out guitar to make this their most accessible track to date.

Five Songs represents a crystallisation of the Youth Man sound. Hardcore-punk snobs could be forgiven for thinking this means they’ve softened with age, but the heft behind their music is present as ever. ‘Constantly’ is one minute forty of primal ¾ noise that echoes the density of their 2013 Bad Weather EP, while the capricious ‘Statuesque’ seems to close the record with less of a exclamation point and more of an interrobang.

Youth Man have expanded their musical horizons; Five Songs is less abrasive than their back catalogue, but every bit as outspoken. It may feature gospel flavoured backing vocals and the odd homemade percussion instrument, but each track on the EP still twitches with punk rock venom.

‘I Don’t Know’ – Youth Man (from Five Songs EP) 











Five Songs EP by Youth Man is out on 29th June, released via Alcopop! Records. To order a copy direct from the label, visit 

For more on Youth Man, visit

For more on Alcopop! Records, visit