I’ve been a Foals fan from the very start. I purchased 2008’s Antidotes on the day of release and followed suit with the purchase of Total Life Forever in 2010. Did I make it a hat-trick and purchase Holy Fire today? Yes. Of course I did. How could I not after the massive comeback single Inhaler and the even better follow-up single, My Number. Foals have made an almighty return this year with a heavier, faster and more confident sound. It’s clear that they mean business with this new album and after a full first listen, I’m well and truly on board with them.
The album begins with ‘The Prelude’ which 30 seconds in, already starts to set the tone for the album with slick guitar riff’s and a smooth drum beat, it builds the anticipation up. I loved the anticipation that much that I actually skipped back to listen to it again, something I rarely do on a first listen. With an introduction in to the Foals new sound now firmly in our ears, we have the first single to be released off the album, ‘Inhaler’.
When Inhaler was first released, I was expecting to hear an extension of ‘Total Life Forever’ and find myself enjoying the usual artistic riff’s I’d grown to love. I was very much mistaken with Yannis screaming the lyrics at us, yearning to be listened to. You can’t help but be drawn in to the fast paced beat and it becomes very clear that Foals have musically matured.
The next track, ‘My Number’ became the second single to be released off the album just before today’s release. Upon hearing it on Zane Lowe’s show,it instantly became a favourite of mine. Not only my favourite song off the album but my favourite Foals song. A pretty bold statement when Foals have given us fantastic tracks such as ‘Cassius’ and ‘Spanish Sahara’ off their first two albums, retrospectively. It’s also a song we can all relate to with lyrics; “You don’t have my number, we don’t need each other now. You can’t steal my thunder cos you don’t have my lover’s touch” as this is literally about your ex not being able to contact you anymore. Whether it’s the catchy lyrics or the body-moving tune, I can’t help but keep going back to it. It’s an unashamed catchy pop song from a band cool enough to pull it off. This will definitely be a crowd pleaser at any Foals show.
After going back yet again to listen to ‘My Number’, track 4, ‘Bad Habit’ comes around. It’s a beautiful blend of instruments which have been put together with a lot of thought and passion. I do however believe that this is the track within the album that was probably meant to be used on ‘Total Life Forever’. I say this because it reminds me completely of a faster paced ‘Spanish Sahara’. This by any accounts isn’t a bad thing at all, especially after the critical success of that song as a single in 2010. ‘Everytime’ seems to be the ultimate love song on the album. With cries of “Come run this way, run this way. Follow, I promise you’ll be okay, come this way”. As well as a maturity progression, this also shows an emotional side of the Foals which hasn’t really been shown as blatant as this.
After the slower, ‘Everytime’; the speed doesn’t pick up that much on next track ‘Late Night’, both show that just because the album has a heavier sound in general, this doesn’t mean the slower tracks can’t be as powerful. They add a different dynamic to the loud, in your face songs and also act as a kind of breather. This, I imagine will be noticeable throughout the live shows more so than on the album though.
‘Out of the Woods’ is a classic Foals song. Guitar riff’s + a catchy drum beat = successful song. This seems to be the recipe to the Foals success when they first started and they don’t want us to forget their roots, despite them developing their sound over the years.
‘Milk & Black Spiders’ is another great song on the album and I can imagine it making a great single later this year. With lyrics such as “Cause I’ve been around 2 times and found that you are the only thing I need”, I interpret it to be a sort of thank you to the fans for being with them through the previous two albums and sticking around. I could be completely wrong and looking in to it too much but that’s one of the many beauties of music, you take what you want from it.
After a slight pause from the heavier sounds, ‘Providence’ soon picks the tempo up and we’re back on the dancefloor again. It’s one of the heaviest songs on the album and fits perfectly as we approach the end of this masterpiece of an album.
Penultimate track, ‘Stepson’ is the result of a night of some impromptu jamming according to Yannis. They weren’t even meant to be recording a song. After a couple of hours, producers told them that it was an excellent new track. I couldn’t agree more.
The last song of an album is always important as its the last thing on your mind after the crucial first listen. ‘Moon’ is Foals choice of ending. It’s an excellent choice as it’s soothing as well as meaningful. It reminds me of the route The Maccabees took with ‘Grew Up At Midnight’ on the end of ‘Given To The Wild’. I imagine seeing this live will be a magical moment and one which will stick in your mind for a long time after.
In summary, Holy Fire shows that the Foals have done a lot of growing up over the past couple of years and are again at the forefront of the indie scene with a new dynamic sound and now have the ability to reach an even bigger fan base than the one they’ve already managed to obtain over the last 5 years. I for one can’t wait to catch them live this year.
‘Holy Fire’ is available now on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/holy-fire/id573269843
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Words by Robert Smith (@robertmsmith)