The pressure is on for Oxford-based art rockers Foals. With such a flawless back catalogue of albums, can their forth and latest effort stick to the same high standards of its predecessors? When their debut ‘Antidotes’ was released in 2008, it was a completely new sound to anything around at the time. It inspired a whole host of copycats, and elevated the band into the limelight. The follow up ‘Total Life Forever’ took their formula and moved it on a step further. It mixed huge indie anthems such as ‘This Orient’ with broodier, more epic numbers such as ‘Spanish Sahara,’ and took their career to a whole new level. Whilst their second album is seen by many as their magnum opus, it was album number three, ‘Holy Fire’ that in my opinion gave Yannis and the boys their greatest piece of work yet. Three amazing albums, each one better than the one before. And it looks like they have done it again with album number four, ‘What Went Down’ which is released on Warner Bros.
I’m never more of a Foals fan than when they are in full on rock mode, and this album is by no means a disappointment. It has a harder edge and a darker sound than their previous work. But let’s talk about album opener and title track ‘What Went Down’. It is a huge monster of a track and kicks things off in a way like they’ve never done before. Vocally there is a raw quality to Yannis’ voice, especially in the closing bars as he sings ‘When I see a man, I see a liar’. Lyrics you would more likely expect written by a member of the female population. Maybe it’s glimpse into the eternal single status of the band’s frontman. It has the sound of an instant classic, a sound that continues into track two, ‘Mountain At My Gates’. This is how you start an album off, Foals-style.
What Foals have always done is produced music so exclusively their own. Names such as art rock or math rock have been thrown around. But breaking it down, what Foals do best is make well produced and unique indie tracks. Whilst their sound has moved on, there are still tracks on here that have the classic Foals formula. They are more song-based than those early songs on ‘Antidotes’ such as ‘Balloons,’ and ‘Cassius,’ but they still know how to do a produce a great indie dance-record. ‘Albatross’ is a fantastic example, whilst ‘Snake Oil’ continues the rock theme.
‘Give It All’ adds a drama and a beauty to the album. The production of the track stands out from anything else. It is an emotive track that appears to draw inspiration from those great early Kate Bush songs such as ‘Hounds Of Love’. Vocally it is probably the strongest track on the album. The ten track collection draws to an end with ‘A Knife In The Ocean’. It is one more example that no one does epic in quite the same way as Foals. ‘What Went Down’ as an album is in no doubt what the fans have been waiting for, myself included. They are still on top of their game on album number four.
Find out more about Foals and ‘What Went down”.