If there is a manifesto to be found on the debut album from Bristolian post-punk quintet Idles, it makes itself apparent early in its first track: “I’m just saying I don’t like you.” No one is safe from bludgeoning savagery on the perfectly titled ‘Brutalism’, whether you’re a TV chef or a Conservative MP.
These might seem like easy targets, and you’d be right. At their worst, the lyrics, barked out by frontman Joseph Talbot, aren’t all that far off Jez and Super Hans’s pet musical project The Hair Blair Bunch. Yet, repeated listens reveal an unexpected layer of absurdist humour to Talbot’s delivery. Out of tune Beatles quotes, or quips about Francis Bacon painting selfies might seem like non-sequiturs on paper, but they actually support the rants more than they undercut them.
Meanwhile, the band are impossibly tight, offering an onslaught that pitches itself somewhere alongside the sensory overload of Girl Band or Hookworms. From its loping beat upwards, few songs in recent memory have encapsulated smalltown boredom as perfectly bluntly as ‘Exeter’, one of the album’s rare pauses for breath. Otherwise, the rough edges and lack of nuance here are entirely the point. The government may be eager to get rid of the architecture that gives the album its name, but Idles have offered a ‘Brutalism’ that demolishes back.