Their forthcoming sophomore album Joy as an Act of Resistance comes a year after their debut, and frontman Joe Talbot says that the band started writing the second album right away, over the course of a year. However, when they weren’t happy with what they were producing, they started again – coming to the table with new ideas that were important to them personally rather than important outwardly.
“We realised that we weren’t enjoying ourselves and that we were over thinking it. We lost the essence of why we enjoyed the first album so much, which was because we stopped caring about what other people thought and wrote music for ourselves,” Talbot explains.
“I found the phrase ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ online, I thought it was a beautiful concept and I wanted to use it for the album, so we did. It became an artistic and philosophical endeavour where the album came pretty quick and my life became very turbulent and awful and I had to use joy as an act of resistance in real time.”
The album features political themes about life in a post-Brexit world, and Talbot believes that by writing about these issues they can resist against the division of fear and reactionary behaviour by illustrating how important it is to love yourself. “When you find the confidence within, you’re more open to new ideas, new cultures and new people,” he says. “It became a way of life for us as opposed to an album and we hope that it will in time encourage other people to be vulnerable to new things.”
Talbot declares that the band have a bigger stage now than they used to and want to use that to create a safe space for their audience. He says that they’ve always been a political band and they want to encourage people to explore themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin.
“We’re just trying to change the narrative a bit on politics, because obviously a lot of people have little trust in the realms of politics. But all politics is really the infrastructure of human welfare and how to feel safe. We wanted to remind people of the humane aspect of politics and take it down to the smaller more important part which is the individual, and celebrate that.”
The first single to be released from the album, ‘Danny Nedelko’, is a pro-immigration track inspired by and named after the band’s Ukrainian-born friend. “If you write about something you love, there’s often a role that plays within society that is greater than yourself,” he says. “He is a British citizen but Ukrainian-born which means that he’s a great example of why I think this country is a better place with immigrants in it. Like any allegory, I wanted to use him as a great example of how if you open your mind and heart slightly you will see the beauty of compassion and I think compassion is what helps countries progress. I would like to execute that as much as possible, just reminding people of the human individual behind all the political debates.”
Imagine this album as a parade. That’s how Talbot sees it. The album is a congregation of minds celebrating the beauty of the flawed nature of who they are and celebrating imperfection. The album is a resistance against the pressures of success and more of a celebratory piece that encourages people to love themselves for who they are and not who they should be.
Now that there’s been a taste of the album with ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘Colossus’, Talbot says that if listeners are familiar with the band’s first album, as a comparison, it’s more dynamic and there’s more room to breathe this time around. “There’s more of a narrative arc. It takes you on more of a journey. There’s more sadness in it and there’s more joy. There’s more reflection on our own lives as an example of the wider problems in our society. I think it’s a more concise album, writing wise. I think it is loud and I think it is fun and dark.”
IDLES will release their sophomore album Joy as an Act of Resistance on Friday August 31 via on Partisan Records and Pod/Inertia Music.