FOALS – ‘Holy Fire’

foalsFOALS – ‘Holy Fire’
Being from Oxford, the Math-Rock tag kinda works for these boys and has rightly stuck-fast since compulsive debut Antidotes.  Whilst we will always associate the jittery guitar pics, jibes and musical twists and turns with this quintet,  10’s Total Life Forever hinted at a move towards more conventional and traditional song structures.  This third release continues very much where TLF left off, taking the maturity and songwriting ability to new levels of dynamism while completely retaining their identity.  It’s a darker and more cohesive package on offer; conjuring moments of intrigue and diversity that are crucial in a modern context, making it one of the most forward thinking albums we’ve heard since Dear Science by TV On The Radio.  From the moment ‘Prelude’ kicks in atop a bassline that could pump through your neighbours wall, Foals set themselves apart from their reeling peers.  Taking the lead on pushing a complex and often difficult sub-genre into something much more artistic, recognisable and down right cool.  First single ‘Inhaler’ works a satisfying and danceable groove to death; pulsating beneath Yannis Philippakis’ soaring vocal before descending into a tar thick space jam that’s heavier than anything they’ve ever written.  ‘My Number’ is classic Foals, but no less distinct or advanced; retaining the very charm that has drawn hoardes to this band for the last 5 years.  ‘Big Habit’ and ‘Everytime’ are accomplished and positive, with some exceptional fret work and enslaving synth.  ‘Late Night’ is simple yet full of depth and emotional power that belies their years; uncoiling into a lazy lounge-bar composition distinct in colour and flavour, while ‘Milk & Black Spiders’ and ‘Providence’ in particular really see the band cut loose to explore new inner limits.  We could go on and on, making a fool of ourselves trying to re-create in words the exceptional and unique nature of Foals’ music; right through to the closing nebula of ‘Moon’.  With themes of redemption, violence, sex, apocalypse, loss and guilt, Holy Fire is as timely for the industry as it is a unique calling card for a band with unabashed ambition.  After an unexpectedly strong start to the year for album releases and the promise of more to come, this is going to take some beating at year end and we’re only in February.  A sacred treasure indeed.  (10)
STEVE FLETCHER

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