Sunday, 19 May 2013

Album Review! Foals - 'Holy Fire'

Oxford based Indie Rock/Dance-Punk band 'Foals' are back with their third album 'Holy Fire', but will it live up to the immensely high standards they set with the previous two albums?
If you've been living under a rock for the last few years and haven't heard of Foals yet, then I'll quickly bring you up to speed. Since 2007 Foals have already released two full studio albums, 'Antidotes' and 'Total Life Forever', both of which were a huge commercial success, regularly featuring in the charts.

The recently released third album (Holy Fire) which this review focusses on, demonstrates Foals' ability to evolve and develop their innovative, and intriguing sound even further, leaving them with three albums in three different styles. 'My Number' was the first track from this album to be released, and reminded all of their dedicated fans exactly why they love Foals so much. What strikes me the most about this track is it's simplicity of ideas, both music and lyrically. The lyrics 'You don't have my number, we don't need each other now' are not part of some elaborate metaphor as you would normally expect from Yannis, but are literally about having a new phone number, and so not receiving texts from your ex. The track has a very poppy, refreshing  feel to it, and I think that might be my favourite aspect of 'Holy Fire'- the way in which it maintains a balance between musical complexity and simplicity.

The album opens with a track appropriately entitled 'Prelude', which reminds me of their work from 'Total Life Forever', but with more of a punch to it, coming in at 2:40, which nicely prepares you for the rest of 'Holy Fire'. 'Prelude' is followed by 'Inhaler', another track which was released before the official album release date. I think 'Inhaler' might be my favourite track from the album, as it sounds so refreshingly new and exciting. The material is much less minimalist than the majority of their earlier songs, and seems to adapt to more quintessential pop music format. The piece starts of slowly and gently with Yannis' falsetto voice, then unexpectedly explodes in to something heavier at around 1:50. These sudden bursts of energy could easily be described as the definitive sounds of Holy Fire.

'Providence' is another personal favourite of mine from 'Holy Fire'. This one opens with what sounds like a reverb drenched guitar, followed by a vocal solo from Yannis, including the lyrics 'I'm an animal just like you'. These words are arguably reflected in the music when Jack Bevan's animalistic drumming style makes an appearance, giving the piece a very primal feel. Track 6- 'Late Night' is very different indeed, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's the kind of song which could easily sound track a smokey bar at the end of a night due to it's relatively slow tempo and calm atmosphere- again demonstrating Foals' ability to work in different styles and genres. For example, compare this track to 'Cassius' from their debut Album 'Antidotes' and you'll see how much they have evolved over the 6 years.

The last song I'm going to review from 'Holy Fire' is track 8, 'Milk & Black Spiders'. Once again, this track appears to have a fairly self-explanatory meaning (dependence on somebody), and shows off their new style, while maintaining their signature delayed, high-register electric guitar parts and repetition of lyrics. This is another example of Foals doing what they do best, building up atmosphere and texture. You can listen to as many drops in modern dubstep as you like, and none of them will even compare to the way that Foals build tension and atmosphere  over time in their tracks (the most effective example being in the track 'Total Life Forever'. I'll be seeing Foals at Leeds Festival in August this year, and they're probably the band I'm most excited to see, due to the amount of brilliant material they've released over the last few years (I don't think I can name a single badly written song by them). Having now released three individual sounding, equally incredible albums, I'm patiently awaiting an equally brilliant fourth album, and very much look forward to their performance in Leeds this year!
Matt Hensley

For fans of:
- Metronomy
- Editors
- The xx
- The Big Pink

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