Album: Foals, Total Life Forever (Transgressive / Warners)
Subtle, slinky and smart – Foals turn into stallions
Sunday 09 May 2010
Warner Music (the megabucks major behind the sham-indie front of Transgressive) are giving Foals the big push, presumably in the hope that Yannis Philippakis and his band might follow their indie-dance peers Friendly Fires to festival-bill-topping status.
If so, it seems a slightly unrealistic target. Total Life Forever is more or less devoid of dancefloor bangers (although lead single "This Orient" comes close). The Oxford quintet themselves have described their second album as "tropical prog" and "like the dream of an eagle dying", and those starting points are as instructive as any.
Recorded in Gothenburg with producer Luke Smith (former guitarist with Clor), it's an album which sees Foals move on from the quasi-math rock jerkiness of their early material to a more liquid sound, with the pleasingly superficial sparkle of sunlight on a rippling stream. It's subtle and slinky, with hints of the Talking Heads of "Naïve Melody" and the Blue Aeroplanes of "...And Stones".
It's a thoughtful, even intellectual record, with words you wouldn't normally expect to hear on Xfm drive time (singularity, residue), but given that the lead singer studied English at St John's College Oxford, you'd be disappointed if this were not the case.
And it isn't merely verbal window-dressing: Philippakis has a way with a metaphor ("I see you lying there, like a lilo losing air") when he can be bothered. For all the restraint they're displaying this time around, Foals have also learnt a thing or two about dynamics: see the chanting-and-handclaps breakdown on the title track, and the crescendo that simmers up through "Spanish Sahara" without you noticing it coming.
Best of all is "2 Trees" on which, in his forever faintly mournful tones, Philippakis sings "give blood today, each drop away..." while sounding like someone who's already donated one pint too many, while the minimalism of the rest of the record is swept aside by a big production with shamelessly uncool echoes of U2 circa The Unforgettable Fire or Simple Minds on New Gold Dream.
It might just be their masterpiece.
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Yorkshire man to win £10,000 off a £1 bet placed six years ago if Dan Jarvis becomes Labour Party leader
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 5 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Cassetteboy joins forces with Russell Brand for Emperor's New Clothes film
Poldark, TV review: Demelza’s insouciance is almost as impressive as Ross’ pecs
Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear: Former Stig Ben Collins says show 'will always continue' with or without suspended host
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers