Foals – Total Life Forever (Transgressive) 10/05/2010

May 17, 2010 by  

When presented with Foals’ second album it’s very easy to be swayed either way. I personally have been a fan since their début single dropped and was lucky enough to see some of their first headline shows. Conversely, my self professed love for the Oxford outfit was met with jibes of pretentiousness and accusations of being just a little too po faced about indie amongst friends. Now for this assement to continue I will cast predjusces aside – well for as long as I can.

For their fans, myslef included, they are the best band to come out of England in ages and for their detractors they just typify the whole art school ethos. But, they are so wrong. Total Life Forever is magnificent and is everything you could want from a Foals sophomore LP. It’s more refined, more considered and even more discerning – if that is possible.

While at their early gigs some people commented that they just sounded like a bunch of guys jamming out math rock and punk funk, now they cant cast such accusations. I could see where they were coming from, but certainly did not agree with them. Foals’ début was very much explorations in math rock and has an undeniable edge and immediacy that only a début album can produce. As a result it’s so great because of that willingness to explore in a scene which was dominated by Libs rip-offs and nu-rave bandwagoners – but some just couldn’t see it.

On Total Life Forever, Foals are what everyone else could see. Gone are the immediate indie club floor-fillers. In their place are beautifully crafted songs such as ‘Spanish Sahara’ and ‘This Orient’. Opener ‘Blue Blood’ finds Yannis finally offering personal lyrics and has the rest of the band supplying coherent refrains and drops, yet still there is an undeniable ounce of funk hook. ‘Miami’ has a kind of Modest Mouse ‘Float On’ vibe to it, which subsequently offers their first ‘anthemic’ sing along moment and title track ‘Total Life Forever’ is an undeniably jerky ‘70s disco rework.

However, what is more important is where Antidotes was at times art for art’s sake, swapping minors with majors and using irrelevant lyrics to show their insignificance in math rock, Total Life Forever replaces their youthful prejudices with Yannis’ new found embrace for lyrical poignancy and a yearning to produce powerful and moving music.

But, before I sound too gushy, this is still not quite the perfect Foals record. Immediacy is always enjoyable, and on this record is at times lost. Instead it is replaced by atmosphere and tension, which leads to a great album, but it’s a shame some of those ‘Hummer’ moments are not present. But then, this album will balance out the frantic energy of their debut and should silence those early critics who thought it was just all a bit too Skins – they’re probably all estate agents now anyway.

What this record really shows is, Foals are no longer just an indie disco band for scenesters, they are now the heavyweight act they were always destined to be. Radiohead best start upping their game or their beloved crown might just start to slip Foals’ way.

[rating:4.5]


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