Today’s Song: IDLES Marx the Spot with “Mercedes Marxist,” Taking on the System That Left Them Wasted

IDLES © Stewart Baxter
IDLES’ unrelenting “Mercedes Marxist” creates a platform for the biting vocals of Joe Talbot to delve into a topic he usually leaves untouched: Himself.
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Stream: “Mercedes Marxist” – IDLES


A zombie Che Guevara with censor-bars for eyes isn’t a picture you see too often. Nor are the words “Mercedes” and “Marxist” in the same sentence. However IDLES aren’t the kind of band you come across every day either, meaning in an odd way it all makes sense.

Mercedes Marxist - IDLES

Mercedes Marxist – IDLES

English punk rock band IDLES — whose second album Joy as an Act of Resistance was one of Atwood’s 2018 Albums of the Year — dropped this little goodie last month, with a physical release coming in the form of a 7 inch in August. The first song written for their brilliant Joy as an Act of Resistance (but eventually left off), it’s unclear if “Mercedes Marxist” is a one-off single release or part of a larger forthcoming package.

What’s obvious, however, is the song’s brilliance.

Its pulsating rhythm is a constant chug over the top of an unrelenting drum beat, creating a platform for the biting vocals of Joe Talbot. While a mid-tempo rocker isn’t a familiar style for the British hope-punk quintet, it really suits them. And in the case of “Mercedes Marxist” also creates the perfect bedrock for Talbot to delve into a topic he usually leaves untouched: Himself.

“I was pissed off at what I was and where I was: I was sofa surfing on the weekends and spending the weeks looking after my mum. My life balance was way off and this song reflects just how useless I felt.” The anger comes from a real place and is directed not just at his current situation but at the world that allowed his situation to happen:

Forgive my crippled head
Our revolution’s dead
They’ve gambled all our pride
They want money instead
They’ve gone and speared my side
I think they want me dead
IDLES © Daniel Patlán

IDLES © Daniel Patlán

The pounding nature of the song only adds to Talbot’s obvious struggling, creating an anxiety that never quite breaks into an all out panic, but rather bubbles underneath the surface. Towards the end of the song you sense all hell’s going to break loose, but outside of a few extra cymbals the downtrodden nature of the song holds. The lyrics serve to cement this tone:

I bow on my knees for you
But I’m already wasted
I wait at the gates for you
But I’m already wasted
I bow on my knees for you
But I’m already wasted

All of this feels somewhat symbolic of Talbot’s troubles. “Mercedes Marxist” then, is both a recognition and a release: “It was me at my worst, and without any buoyancy it became catharsis.”

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:: stream/purchase Mercedes Marxist here ::
Stream: “Mercedes Marxist” – IDLES

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Mercedes Marxist - IDLES

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📸 © Stewart Baxter

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:: IDLES Tour 2019 ::

5/05 – Raleigh, NC / Kings Barcade*
5/06 – Richmond, VA / The Broadberry*
5/08 – Albany, NY / Jupiter Hall*
5/10 – Brooklyn, NY / Brooklyn Steel*
5/11 – Washington, DC / Rock & Roll Hotel*
5/12 – Washington, DC / Rock & Roll Hotel*
5/14 – Cleveland, OH / Beachland Ballroom*
5/16 – Kansas City, MO / recordBar*
5/17 – Dallas, TX / The Curtain Club*
5/18 – Austin, TX / Barracuda*
5/20 – Phoenix, AZ / Valley Bar*
5/21 – San Diego, CA / Belly Up*
5/22 – Los Angeles, CA / The Fonda*
5/24 – San Francisco, CA / Great American Music Hall*
5/25 – San Francisco, CA / Great American Music Hall*
5/27 – Portland, OR / Wonder Ballroom*
5/28 – Seattle, WA / Neumo’s*
7/29 – Detroit, MI / El Club#
7/30 – Toronto, ON / Danforth Music Hall#
8/02 – Chicago, IL / Lollapalooza
8/03 – Minneapolis, MN / First Avenue#
10/07-13 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits
10/07 – San Diego, CA / Observatory North Park^
10/08 – Los Angeles, CA / The Wiltern^
10/10 – San Francisco, CA / The Fillmore^
10/14 – Washington, DC / 930 Club%
10/15 – Philadelphia, PA / Union Transfer%
10/16 – Boston, MA / Royale%
10/17 – New York, NY / Terminal 5%
* w/ Fontaines D.C.
#w/ A Place To Bury Strangers
^w/ Surfbort
%w/ Preoccupations

Oliver Crook

Oliver Crook is a Canada-based journalist who has been playing guitar and deciphering lyrics since he first heard Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” blasting through his older brother’s bedroom walls. Although his taste has (somewhat) developed since then, his passion is just as strong as ever. When not writing about music, he can be found drinking too much coffee, complaining about the finickiness of avocados, and being disappointed by all of his favourite sports teams.