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.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 New Apple TV release date and price: streaming box and games console will launch in October
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge on the show?'
Wes Craven dead: Why Johnny Depp owes his career to director’s 13-year-old daughter
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift and her buddy Kendrick Lamar clean-up at awards - full list of winners
James Bond is a 'very lonely, sexist misogynist', says Daniel Craig
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms