IDLES was formed in 2009 when Joe Talbot decided to start a band with Adam Devonshire, a friend from his sixth-form college. They later met Mark Bowen who had moved to Bristol where Talbot and Devonshire were already studying. The final line-up was composed of Talbot, Devonshire, Bowen Lee Kieran and Jon Beavis in 2014. The band started with self-released EP’s before finally releasing their critically acclaimed first album Brutalism (2017). Subsequent albums that followed were Joy as an Act of Resistance (2018) and their most recent album, Ultra Mono (2020).
IDLES are well known for their progressive songwriting; it is what makes them who they are. In their album Brutalism, they push for the support of single mothers and during the song Mother, effectively tackle the societal expectations imposed on women who deserve the upmost respect in society. Brutalism also deals with the lack of attention that society gives to mental illness and intends to raise awareness.
In Joy as an Act of Resistance, xenophobia and chauvinistic attitudes are demolished by the fast-paced and heavy track Danny Nedelko which talks about acceptance of immigrants and other conflict-induced refugees. The song is dedicated to Danny Nedelko, Talbot’s best friend, who was an immigrant from Poland. Talbot also takes on classism with the dark and angry track I’m Scum- the song rejects society’s image of Britain’s working-class while mocking typical stereotypes about people from working-class backgrounds.
The Album Ultra Mono took IDLES to a new level of progressiveness with tracks like Ne Touche Pas Moi and War. IDLES wanted to take feminist ideas from Brutalism and re-work them in order to confront the topic of sexual assault; I believe Ne Touche Pas Moi does this perfectly by condemning men who do commit acts of sexual assault. War is, as you may guess, an anti-war song that at one point specifically criticizes the United States’ use of drone pilots. As we can clearly see, IDLES are among the most progressive bands of our times, purely devoted to changing society through music.
I myself have changed my opinions on many societal issues since listening to them and their enlightening music is opening people up to new views about societal issues. Their devotion to transparency, progressiveness and to the overall objective of raising awareness is making them an important band of our time.