Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Foals - Total Life Forever


In the beginning Foals never really appealed to me. They were cocky scenesters that accompanied their manic indie tinkles with peculiar rhythmic spasms and that was enough to make me dislike them. However, all that began to change when a friend bought us tickets to go and see them live, at the time I would rather have had a punch in the throat but as a matter of politeness we attended the gig whereupon Cassius, Hummer and the rest of there discography, which I had previously kept at arms length, managed to drill there way through my skull and bounce jollily within my conscience. They sounded amazing live and projected a great deal of energy that flowed through the venue like a wave splashing the plethora of pissed teens with a magical substance that made them all dance like they were extras in an old Human League video. I was impressed, won over and Antidotes, their debut album, was regularly repeated on my stereo and in my dreams. Then they vanished for a little bit.

And then they came back, first of all with Spanish Sahara, the video for which is the most ethereal and visually stunning clip I have ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes on and the track itself is haunting and vicious and altogether beautiful. Then came This Orient which is similarly affective and otherworldly emotional. Both tracks acted as an astonishing precursor to the release of their second album Total Life Forever. Often second albums can be hastily released and are more than often a heap of crap (see Killers, Scissor Sisters, Foo Fighters, Primal Scream, the list goes on) yet Foals seemed to do the most sensible thing – grow up. Having retained their original sound, they have grown beards and grown the balls to boldly mature with lyrics that contain genuine emotion and fear of some undisclosed impending doom. If Total Life Forever was a book, it would be Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, not in the fact that it is depressing and dark but that it revels in similar mystery and the production generates the impression that it was created al fresco with a sound best suited to the natural world as opposed to the industrial club racket of their debut.

The stand out tracks are the two aforementioned singles, After Glow, which conjours the image of vocalist Yannis singing to his own reflection in a picturesque lake before falling in and indulging in some maniacal swimming in order to save his own life. Miami throws some meaty beats from the sound machine that will put a swing in your step if wandering with your iPod and the title track Total Life Forever will generate a sense of déjà vous but that’ll be because the bridge is lifted from Lemonheads’ classic Into Your Arms. I could probably create an analogy for every track, because they're all excellent, but I won’t bother, I’ll just get on with saying that Total Life Forever is a total masterpiece, everything works together perfectly. It usually takes a couple of listens before I can form an opinion on an album but not this one. The whole thing sounds very personal, not to Foals but to me, like they are aiming directly at me and I’m being drawn to the whole composition with great magnetic force. Maybe that night when I was stood at the gig they spotted me and my uncertainty in the crowd and thought, ‘Right, we’re going to get him on side, we’re making our next album for him.’ And they did.


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