Idles x Magda Archer

A new book brings the fiery lyricism of Idles to life in print

The latest iteration of Thames & Hudson’s illustrated book series combines lead singer Joe Talbot’s lyrics – taken from the band’s debut album Brutalism – with the visual wit of artist Magda Archer

Founded in 2009, Idles have built a reputation as one of the most transparent bands in modern music, addressing everything from class divisions to mental health through their music.

This ambitious forthrightness has also made them one of the most successful bands of the last decade, with a number one album, a Mercury Prize nomination, and not one but two historic Glastonbury sets under their belt.

Lead singer Joe Talbot’s subversive lyricism has been one of Idles’ defining features ever since they released their debut album Brutalism in 2017. Described by the Guardian as a “musical hand grenade”, the album was notably recorded as he openly dealt with his mother’s alcoholism and early demise.

Since then, Talbot’s words, in the context of the band’s music, have grown to represent a liberated show of vulnerability and an aggressive response to the societal ‘masculine’ ideal of withholding emotion.

Following the band’s fifth album Tangk earlier this year, their latest project sees them return to their debut LP to breathe a different kind of life into Talbot’s fiery lyrics. Specifically, with expressive typography, hot pink ink and Magda Archer’s instantly recognisable artworks.

Idles x Magda Archer is the latest iteration of publisher Thames & Hudson’s illustrated lyrics book series, which previously saw Belle and Sebastian frontman and lyricist Stuart Murdoch invite Pamela Tait to reinterpret 20 of the band’s songs through her gentle and dreamlike characters.

For Talbot, Archer’s kitsch aesthetic and wry witticism was the perfect fit for everything Idles stands for. “It’s something I have strived to achieve myself and not grasped as she has; the essence and cathartic purity from a poised and honest brushstroke that needs no further explanation,” he writes in the book’s foreword.

When combined, Archer’s illustrations enter a kind of shouting match with the frontman’s lyrics – resulting in a chaotic but joyful conversation between two like-minded artists.

Idles x Magda Archer: Brutalism Illustrated Lyrics is published by Thames & Hudson;