Socialist Worker

Idles’ new album is a lightning bolt against reaction

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2619

Idles on stage last year

Idles on stage last year (Pic: Marcel van Leeuwen/Flickr)

If someone forced you at gun point to describe Idles’ latest album in two words, you could do a lot worse than “angry” and “loud”.

The Bristol-based band have created a fierce, driving sound in both this latest offering, and their 2017 debut album Brutalism.

Joy as an Act of Resistance is full of rage at the Tories, toxic masculinity, fascism, nationalism and a thousand other injustices.

It is explicitly left wing, and thankfully doesn’t venture down the cultural low point of comparing everything to Brexit.

Standout lyrics include, “I am Dennis Skinner’s Molotov” and “this snowflake is an avalanche” on I’m Scum.

And “My blood brother is an immigrant” on the anti-racist track Danny Nedelko. There are plenty of moments like this through the album.


The music is not just about sticking two fingers to the reactionaries.

Some tracks reveal a deep vulnerability. Lead singer Joe Talbot said, “This album is an attempt to be vulnerable to our audience, to encourage vulnerability—a mere brave naked smile in this shitty new world.”

During the making of Joy as an Act of Resistance Talbot’s daughter died, an experience that forms the basis of June.

In the song he references Ernest Hemmingway’s line “baby shoes for sale—never worn.”

The band’s music has been raw since their first EP in 2014. If any change has taken place in their new album it is added complexity. At the heart of the album is a sometimes?painful honesty.

“It is that bravery to freely express yourself that so terrifies the tyrants,” said Talbot. “When we share each other’s pain we become stronger as communities and less reliant on our state.”

Joy as an Act of Resistance by Idles. Go to

Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land

Seventy years since the ship Empire Windrush carried migrants to London, come and hear the voices behind the headlines.

This exhibition asks why people came, what they leave behind and how they shaped Britain.

Poets, novelists and other writers are featured. Visitors can read manuscripts of Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island and Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us.

The personal reflections of some of the first Caribbean nurses to join the NHS can also be listened to.

British Library, London. Until 21 October. Free

Spellbound exhibition on the history of magic

This exhibition explores the history of magic over eight centuries.

It asks the viewer to examine its beliefs and rituals.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Until 6 January 2019. From £6

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