Saturday 2 July 2022
Bristol punks IDLES deliver a state of the world address with pummeling riffs and anger


It’s time to be angry.

When you have political turmoil and despair (and we do have quite a lot of that at the moment), you also have someone to comment on it.

No one does it better than Bristol’s IDLES.

IDLES has a shout-in-your-face directness that just works.

They play punkish rock music that compels you to pay attention. Or – to use the words of one critic – “IDLES might just be the most important guitar band in the UK”.

The five-piece tackled potent themes of white privilege and the state of the national health service in their 2017 breakthrough Brutalism, while their Mercury Prize-nominated follow-up, 2018’s Joy As an Act of Resistance, probed toxic masculinity, Brexit and the benefits of immigration. On 2020’s Ultra Mono, they attacked racial issues, sexism and right-wing characters.

On the latest album, the critically acclaimed Crawler, the band shows a new side of themselves. They are unafraid of taking the music to a slow tempo, to look inside themselves, and front man Joe Talbot even sings with an amazing dirty bluesy voice once in a while. Talbot's lyrics also come from deep inside. He is fighting demons and substance abuse while the music plays a ramshackling and exciting soundtrack. It's no wonder that several critics have pointed to Crawler as the best IDLES album so far.

IDLES’ energy shines as bright as ever, and the punk sound is a winning recipe not least because of their musicianship – which, if anywhere, is evidenced when the band plays live.

On stage, IDLES are a relentless force of churning energy and tumultuous sound. Joe Talbot’s gravel-dredging klaxon of a voice towers over the mix whilst the scabrous clash of Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen’s guitars meshes perfectly with Adam Devonshire and Jon Beavis’s taut and precise rhythm section.

The Bristol band’s tightness helps to hammer their every message into the core of the audience.

Come be angry and cheerful all at the same time when IDLES return to Roskilde Festival.