REVIEW: Foals – Total Life Forever
Words by Scenewave Oz - Published on May 21, 2010
Topping Antidotes was always going to be difficult. Many a skeptic thought only of Foals as a flash in the pan. A group of art-indie upstarts garnering massive attention thanks to their hyperactive so called math-rock explosion. Ever since foals dropped their first two hype generating singles, Mathletics and Hummer, fans have preached the word far and wide, many unable to find adequate superlatives to describe the band. Now I must admit, I was converted late in the piece. I shouldn’t say ‘converted’, more introduced, and since that moment I haven’t looked back. In Total Life Forever, Foals have shrugged off the hipster tags and embraced a more assured sound.
As front-man Yannis Philippakis acknowledged, this is “definitely the darkest stuff, and the slowest stuff ” the band has ever created. Foals gave us a rather unexpected taste of what was to come with the staggering Spanish Sahara. Vivid imagery abounds, intertwined with a sparseness matched only by the xx, all the while building momentum towards a cinematic climax which crashes just as brilliantly. This was the perfect single. A monumental shift from the stop-start thrills of Antidotes and the ideal segue into the albums opening track, and hallmark, Blue Blood. Gone are the indie-club bangers and cryptic lyrics wrapped tightly in jagged guitars, instead giving way to lush imagery and music with a new found breathing space. Miami provides a welcome pop accent to an album which shines during title track Total Life Forever and second single This Orient.
Recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden at the Svenka Grammofon Studio, it’s an expansive and rewarding sophomore album which grows upon each listen. Many will proclaim Total Life Forever the album of the year, while others will dismiss it in similar fashion to the underrated Antidotes. However both will be wrong. It still feels as though Foals are finding their way through a world of high expectation, yet to truly settle on a sound which they are comfortable with. In the meantime lets sit back and appreciate the journey, because in essence this is what makes Foals so special.