IDLES’ ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ saw the snarling rock band take the anger of their surroundings and turn it into something positive. Its loud, proud lessons of being kind, empathetic and loving yourself were taken to heart by the ever-growing AF Gang, their impassioned fanbase, and carried IDLES into massive venues such as London’s 10,000 capacity Alexandra Palace. It was the hopeful soundtrack to a country divided in a world tearing itself apart.
And while ‘Mr. Motivator’, the first taste of Idles’ upcoming new album ‘Ultra Mono’, saw the band take aim at their critics (“How d’you like them clichés?”) and encourage action (“It’s all about the confidence, / You’re Joe Cal-fucking-zaghe”) with all that familiar pent up aggression, ‘Grounds’ takes a very different approach.
From the moment it begins – chirping birds, a sigh and the starting of an engine – through the focused marching drums that drive the track forward, ‘Grounds’ shows off another side to the band. Yes, they’re still angry. Yes, they’re still listening and yes, they want change, but knowing they’re being heard means they don’t have to shout quite as loudly. Bursts of mean guitar underline Joe Talbot’s bullet-pointed demands as he makes himself as clear as possible. “I’ll say what I mean, do what I love and fucking send it,” he promises.
This is not the return to the twitching chaotic urgency of 2017 debut album ‘Brutalism’ that some fans want; Idles’ progressive nature forbids that. Instead ‘Grounds’ is an assured step forward from a band who’ve never been afraid to stand up and ask for more.
Marrying their rough-and-ready spirit with their newfound status as leaders of the pack, ‘Grounds’ crackles with an electric energy and sees IDLES facing other people’s expectations with a wicked smirk. If they’re going to play those massive venues, they’re going to do it their way.
The hammering message of “I am I” is purpose-built for the roar of an arena and builds on ‘Television’s repeated message of “love yourself!”, all while celebrating the while the positive people-led movement Idles have created. Or, as they put it, “not taught by the teachers on our curriculum” – a timely statement amid calls to make the national syllabus more honest about the country’s colonial past.
‘Grounds’ bundles up all the belief that this special band have inspired and sees idles more fearless than ever. “Do you hear that thunder,” Talbot asks with a knowing grin. “That’s the sound of the strength in numbers.” Join in or get out of the way.