Beloved Bristol punks IDLES are continuing the march to upcoming third album ‘Ultra Mono’ with latest single ‘Model Village’. If the blistering track that takes aim at small town England wasn’t exciting enough, the song now comes alongside a video directed by legendary filmmaker Michel Gondry (who’s worked with Radiohead, Queens of The Stone Age and The White Stripes, as well as having directed Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind).
The video, which was released last night (August 11), is a surrealist collage that continues the band’s knack for cracking visuals. Let’s have a look at their best bits, shall we?
Taken from their ‘Meat’ EP, ‘Queens’ represented the first time that IDLES veered away from their post-punk origins to become the inventive sorts we know and love today. A track that pokes fun at the narcissism of social media (“Stop taking photos of yourself”) and tackles the wealth divide (“Indigenous children littered the streets / Contorted and wasted while we eat for free”), it features a masked man eating a bowl full of eggs, perhaps offering an allegory for the gluttonous lengths people will go to to be noticed online. Or maybe IDLES just knew a bloke with some hens knocking about. A gruesome classic, anyway.
Best Bit: There’s a real feeling of achievement after watching a man eat eggs for 200 seconds.
A track written to start conversations about the way women are treated by society, and featuring a paraphrased Margret Atwood quote for good measure (“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them / Women are afraid that men will kill them”), the video for Mother sees frontman Joe Talbot smashing up a whole load of porcelain figures that is in no way inspired by the Changing Rooms Teapot Disaster of 2000. Full of destructive fury and colour-coordinated dresses, the video is a well-timed hit of angst.
Best Bit: Joe gets fed up of smashing stuff one-at-a-time so does his best impression of a fancy waiter and rips the tablecloth off. Cue mass damage.
‘Danny Nedelko’ (2018)
A feel-good video with a lot bubbling under the surface, this clip sees real-life Heavy Lung frontman (and Joe’s mate) Danny Nedelko parodying Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ and posing for photos with immigrants to the United Kingdom as he holds up the ‘OK’ hand sign, reclaiming the gesture from white nationalists. It’s a powerful song in its own right, but this video real rams home the important messages of inclusivity and acceptance that IDLES hold dear. Plus it’s full of hugging and right now with social distancing in full effect, that’s a really nice thing to see.
Best Bit: This video is full of feel good moments but Danny inexplicably busting out the worm dance move is an obvious highlight.
‘Mr. Motivator’ (2020)
IDLES returned in May with this snarling anthem. The video sees bassist Adam ‘Dev’ Devonshire doing his best impression of Joe Wicks alongside loads of clips of friends, family and fans getting involved, and is the perfect reintroduction to a band who value togetherness.
Talbot explained at the time of its release: “We want to start this journey with a means to not only encapsulate [‘Ultra Mono”s] sentiment, but to encourage our audience to dance like no one is watching and plough through these dark times with a two tonne machete of a song and the most beautiful community of scumbags ever assembled.”
Best Bit: Dev doing a workout and eating a Pot Noodle. The very definition of ‘find you a man that can do both’.
‘Stendhal Syndrome’ (2017)
Another star turn from Dev as he dances in a variety of art galleries. He thrusts, shimmies and shakes, the video emphasising the song’s message of art being for everyone, regardless of background, class or education. As one wise Youtube commenter puts it: “Dev’s inspirational, expressionist dance has released 100’s of years of art pretentiousness in 2 mins and 30 seconds. Art is good, the people around it not so much.” We’re no dance experts, but it’s a 10 from us.
Best Bit: It’s hard to pick a favourite dance move but the shimmy in front of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ has got to be up there.
‘Mercedes Marxist’ (2019)
This headbanger fittingly depicts a man so bored and frustrated with his life that he spends all his time… bashing his head against the wall. When someone trying to slap some sense into him, it doesn’t change things. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the political turmoil of recent years as stupidity and repetition seem to win out over common sense and compassion. Also, the song slaps.
Best Bit: Ever had one of those days at work where you want to bash your head against your desk repeatedly? You can live vicariously through this video!
Kubrickian? Performance art? Pure, distilled IDLES? This calling card for classic second album ‘Joy As Act Of Resistance’ is all of the above, depicting Talbot in what seems to be a secluded a desolate, secluded hotel. He hangs about in hedgerows, appears disembodied in some kind of laundry and, yes, enjoys himself inside an enormous cake. What does it all mean? Possible nothing. What does it make us feel? Combined with the song’s searing lyrics (“I’m like Stone Cold Steve Austin / I put homophobes in coffins”), the answer is: everything.
Best bit: Possibly the frame where Talbot stands next to a reasonably priced car with a plastic bag on his head. It’s how we feel watching Top Gear.
‘Divide & Conquer’ (2017)
This uncompromising track is about the systematic and deliberate destruction of the NHS. See poor Joe Talbot getting viciously attacked and not fighting back in the video? That’s the line “A loved one perished at the hand of the barren-hearted right” coming to blood-soaked life.
If that’s not on-the-nose enough for you, though, messages such as “The Health & Social Care Act 2012 abolished the government’s duty to provide us with healthcare” and “The NHS repair budget has been slashed by £1.1bn” flash up briefly throughout the video, which is perhaps even more traumatic than seeing Talbot get beaten to a pulp.
Best Bit: Having to scroll through the video one frame at a time for the facts about the Tories destruction of the NHS isn’t enjoyable work, but it certainly makes it memorable.