Joy as an Act of Resistance by IDLES
This one is going to need some explanation. Upon first listen of any IDLES song, you may find yourself saying “what the fuck, Royal, this is just loud angsty testosterone-filled noise.” On the surface you wouldn’t be wrong. But if you dig a little deeper, listen to the lyrics, read a bit about the band, learn where they’re coming from, you start to see the magic in the madness. Give it a minute, and that lightbulb may turn on for you as it has for me and many others whose musical opinions I value.
IDLES are a band of five tattooed, crooked-grinned lads out of Bristol. Lead singer/songwriter Joe Talbot sings in a heavy, almost barking voice that only a punk rocker could love. The band somehow fills the void between Nick Cave, Rammstein and The Clash, but with songs structured around unexpected subject matters like toxic masculinity, hatred of tabloid journalism and the stillborn birth of Talbot’s daughter Agatha. Below the cacophonous veneer is a vulnerable, endearing group of men trying to find their way in the late 2010s.
Once you hear that pain, suffering and fear shared within these songs, the tone changes. They still function as a form of release, but instead of empathy not of testosterone. Joy as an Act of Resistance is the band’s second album, and I’ve read that 2017’s Brutalism, created before the death of Talbot’s daughter, but after the death of his mom, is equally enthralling.
Joy is full of songs I can get behind, and the band takes visual representation of their songs to a new level as well, with videos out for quite a few of the album’s songs:
I asked at the start of this year’s Top 31 “Does my age cause me to prefer something more mellow to listen to, or does the nature of how I listen force my hand?” and this album is a perfect example. I can’t listen to this album at home without getting some angry looks from my family. And I didn’t really want to listen to it at home with my family. This album is a solo-listening affair, and I just have very few opportunities for that any more. It took a lot of work to get over the hump with it, but I’m glad I did — listening in my car, in headphones at work, etc. And I implore the same of you: give it a long chance at hooking you, and you’ll be surprised.
17. Hell-On by Neko Case
18. Superorganism by Superorganism
19. Living in Extraordinary Times by James
20. Thank You for Today by Death Cab for Cutie
21. Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar
22. Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) by Thom Yorke
23. Merrie Land by The Good, the Bad & the Queen
24. Room 25 by Noname
25. WARM by Jeff Tweedy
26. God's Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
27. Vessel by Frankie Cosmos
28. For Ever by Jungle
29. Twerp Verse by Speedy Ortiz
30. Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo
31. This One’s for the Dancer & This One’s for the Dancer’s Bouquet by Moonface