The 10-minute review – 23: Vital Idles

DISCLAIMER: my cat Nina (full name Nina Aqua Bella Nightingale) moved in last week. She prowls and yowls (quietly). She investigates constantly, particularly at night when she has a fondess for upsetting shampoo containers and chess pieces and licking fingers. The garden is a source of amazement for her. She chases shadows. She knows how to work meal times. This is great, but it means I am tired.

DISCLAIMER: I love libraries but on sunny days?

DISCLAIMER: In 2007 or thereabouts I discovered Life Without Buildings –  a band from Glasgow that Pitchfork wrongly described as mathy art-rock – five years late. (Midheaven Mailorder more memorably described them as “a platypus in the mammalian world of post-punk”. Someone else has compared them to Ramones which is spot on, but  – wow! – misleading.) These days I’m happy to be in the same century. My point here is that the clipped, cyclical, female-led, post-punk leanings of Vital Idles – also a band from Glasgow, but a present-day one – remind me of Life Without Buildings. It must be something to do with the sparseness of the music, the intelligence, the fluency and conciseness of line. The oblique angles. The scuttling stripped-back rhythms. It’s very early 2000s or early 1980s, depending on which generation you’re from… or, 2018.

It says here: VITAL IDLES for a conglomerate of art outsiders and aesthetes are primitive, whimsically brutal. Sculpting a skeleton from a body already lean, there’s a thrilling minimalism that runs through every beat and strum, a sparseness that feeds Jessica Higgins’s surreal, oblique vocal delivery all the nourishment it needs.

Doubtless Life Without Buildings reminded me of someone else when I first heard them, so whatever. Petticoats, Kleenex, Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia (did I just make that name up?). And so forth. None of these bands sound similar beyond a core understanding of silence. The association holds then; a link. An alternative to the dullard boring-as-Ashcroft male narrative in rock that has held sway for too many decades.

Beautiful, brutal, blue repetition.

DISCLAIMER: None of the above paragraphs are actually disclaimers but a tired writing device and one that I would edit out if submitting this review for Classic Rock or The Guardian. (I would not have opened with such an unjustified paragraph about Nina, either.) This is DIY though and so I show the joins, the workings, the machinations, the thought processes, the business plans (such as they are). I do not aim to patronise but include.

DISCLAIMER (and this is the real one): Vital Idles are playing Brighton next month, headlining an incredible bill. The bill includes me. I am simply thrilled, honey.

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