Idylls: The Barn

- The title of Idylls’ third full-length is another ironic swipe from a band that’s all about ironic swipes. The band’s own name means “a simple, descriptive work in poetry or prose that deals with rustic life or pastoral scenes or suggests a mood of peace and contentment.” What better way to encapsulate Brisbane’s most bruising, battering and bloodying post-punks? What’ve you got in The Barn then, Idylls? Why -layered sheaf upon sheaf- it’s this season’s whole harvest of their latest rustic, pastoral peace and ****ing contentment. Contentment comes in different kinds of course, and Idylls -also a band that’s all about, well, not so much defying genre as taking a bunch of genres and gleefully smashing them together until their own mother wouldn’t recognise them in the morgue- have executed another wrenching stylistic twist, although it’s probably not the one you were thinking.

I remember, way back in 2012, Idylls first LP, when a bunch of frisky kids just had to show off how skillful and agile they were, noodling out mathcore craziness like they so badly wanted that Meshuggah support slot. To be honest, I really dug that and still do, but there’s no way this band -even if they hadn’t gone through the line-up change after that record- were going to sit stylistically still. 2014 follow-up Prayer For Terrene subsumed much of that rhythmic frippery in a heavier, sludgier sound, taking a leaf out of the crushing playbook of a band like Converge; indeed Converge’s Kurt Ballou got involved with the production of the record. In a way that extra sludginess felt more Brisbane, too. Sometimes there were echoes of Sewers or Kitchen's Floor and on the album’s gentlest cut, PCP Crazy, you could almost hear an echo of Slug Guts. Just in case you were worried that there wasn’t enough mad craziness any more, the band sprayed saxophone over the largest part of the record, so take that.

Like that could ever be a concern: this a band that are never not going to be splattering genres all over the place. Along with bands like Converge, or The Locust or Agoraphobic Nosebleed if you put your ear to the spinning typhoon of sound you’ll hear grindcore, crust-punk, no-wave, metalcore, post-punk, artcore, mathcore, punk, hardcore, sludge-metal and so on forever.

A good way to think about this new record is to imagine the band, atop the teetering mountain of noisy styles, looking like it ain’t no thing. At this point it’s not about lunging in any one direction with impressive gusto, but instead taking that impressive number of things they can do and making just the sort of music they want to, with all of it. According to Idylls guitarist and producer Chris Brownbill that has been the approach they’ve taken to recording, at least: just capturing the band flexing their stuff, rather than going completely overboard on studio wizardry, which was very much a feature on previous LP, Prayer.

After repeat listens, it does indeed feel like a ‘what you hear is what you get’ kind of deal. What’s stacked up in The Barn is, when you fling open the doors, not unexpected. This isn’t a sarcastic, intellectual jab, the sound of Idylls now is a whole lot less ironic than I was expecting. Right down to the final, ten minute fusillade of destruction this is a frontal assault: brutal, honest and powerful. I hope Idylls fans can fight their way out of the deathgrip their own personal sense of irony -I know it's a big thing for them- and appreciate it.

- Chris Cobcroft.

Album Details

Album Title: The Barn
Artist: Idylls
Record Label: (Black Wire)