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Albums of the Year 2017: Idles - Brutalism | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2017: Idles - Brutalism

Albums of the Year 2017: Idles - Brutalism

An album that perfectly marries angst, wit, and beauty

The devil will find work for idle hands to do

In March, Bristol’s Idles drove up and down the country, leaving painfully small quantities of their debut album Brutalism in each independent record shop they went into. The lucky among us who managed to get a first-pressing copy of the beautifully packaged LP felt a part of something small and exciting, something important on the verge of blowing up.

Now, lauded by the music press and owners of their own Wikipedia page, it’s fair to say that Idles have well and truly conquered 2017.

Fundamentally, they are a punk band, and Brutalism is a punk album, dripping with distortion, speed, and anger. But there’s nothing obvious about the music, the self-deprecating and political lyrics, the art references that manage to be endearing instead of pretentious, the underwater piano-based “Slow Savage”; there's nothing obvious about pressing up a copy of the album using human ashes, a band of five men admitting that their place in the patriarchy is problematic. To misquote Sinatra: they did it their way.

The highlights of Brutalism come thick and fast: the grumbling bass-driven “Mother”, the twisted quasi-religious ditty of “Faith in the City”, the brash-cum-vulnerable “1049 Gotho”, and the sarcastic “Stendhal Syndrome” are among the best songs I’ve heard in recent years. Don’t make me pick a favourite.

The year has featured some of the best work to date by artists I’ve loved for a while, such as LCD Soundsystem, Jane Weaver, Protomartyr, and Mogwai, so it says a lot about the strength of the UK grassroots music scene that a DIY band like Idles have been able to “win” the year for me. Just think, if independent venues were protected and music services were not facing mountains of cuts, how many more bands like Idles might be formed and celebrated?

In January, did I think to myself, what you need is a record about Mary Berry, pissing in sinks, and a lot of hot air? Almost definitely not. But the bizarre mix of humour and outrage in Brutalism makes it thoroughly British, and utterly vital.

Cheers Idles; you were just what 2017 needed. 

Two More Essental Albums From 2017

Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent

Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology

Gig of the Year

LCD Soundsystem at Alexandra Palace

Track of the Year

Brix & the Extricated -  "Faced With Time"

There’s nothing obvious about the music or lyrics


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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