Bonkers but brilliant is this second album from punks Idles; the spirit is that of an angry person in a serious demo carrying a witty sign that gets in the Guardian.
The sound is thunderous, tribal punk — imagine Nick Cave sounding like John Lydon with early Banshees as a backing band — but the lyrics often offset this by being intelligently witty and vulnerable.
The album opens with Colossus, which is as massive a song as it sounds. It opens with dirty bass and the drummer rattling the metal sides of a drum. We’re not sure what it’s about, possibly addiction: “Forgive me father I have sinned / I drink my body full of Pimm’s” it goes.
Never Fight A Man With A Perm opens with the word “Brylcreem!”, cites the lyrics of “These boots were made for walking” (amended to “stomping”), refers to being a heathen from Eton on the back of Michael Keaton and invents the insult “you look like walking thyroid”.
I’m Scum opens with rapid fire drum and bass and the lyric “I’m council house and violent” … I’m just another cog, I’m scum”, but by this time you realise it’s being ironic.
Danny Nedelko is as poppy as they ever get, “My blood brother is an immigrant / A beautiful immigrant” it opens, so you can guess the sentiment. “He’s made of flesh, He’s made of love / He’s made of you, he’s made of me.”
Love Song opens with kick drum and a howling wind, before a bassline from PiL. It’s a love song with the line “I carry the watermelon / I wanna be vulnerable”, a quote (NME told us) from Dirty Dancing. (“Hey coz, what she doing here..she’s with me…I carried a watermelon”). It seems to be more about domestic abuse: “Look at the card I bought! / It says I love you!” the lyrics say, threateningly.
June kicks off with accordion or at least synth) and singer Joe Talbot proves he’s better at shouting than tender vocals “dreams can be so cruel sometimes,” he intones, perhaps remembering his hopes of being choirboy.
We could fill the whole review quoting the stream of consciousness lyrics, in fact: Samaritans: “Turn up, sit down, chin up, pint down.. man up, socks up, don’t whine” before “I’m a real boy, I cry”; Television: “If someone talked to you / the way you to do you / I’d put their teeth through / Love yourself”; Great: “Blighty wants its country back / 50 inch screen in his cul de sac”.
It’s raucousness means you probably only do one play at a time, but it’s a lot of fun, and the lyrics not only make sense but are amusing and intelligent.
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