Foals | Total Life Forever
Ok cards on the table here, I have to admit that I’m going into this one a little biased, being potentially the world’s biggest fan of Foals’ astonishing 2008 debut Antidotes. If you do not own this album then I’d suggest downloading it immediately before we proceed. I’m serious, do it now. NOW. Ok good, let’s get on with it.
On Total Life Forever lead singer Yannis Philippakis continues his endearing trick of sounding simultaneously cocky yet withdrawn, despite a few perturbing moments (like opener “Blue Blood”) when he sounds dangerously like one of the Fleet Foxes. The twiddly, trebly, semi-muted staccato riffs remain intact also, as does the inventive disco drumming from Jack Bevan, who trips so effortlessly from primal scream pounding to delicate tinkering you’d think he had seven arms.
In true Antidotes style each track on TLF tends to unfold like a video of someone pulling apart an origami swan watched on fast reverse – each seemingly conventional intro repeatedly imploding into something utterly different and beautiful. A full four minutes of weightless anticipation goes by before “Spanish Sahara” winds up and spills its guts – you get the impression that in the hands of anyone else, it (and “After Glow”) would be pretentious and dreary, but somehow Foals molds them thoughtfully into works of imminent fascination. Never has such a chaotic clutter sounded so well thought out and deliberate, like a magician who pretends that his trick has gone wrong before wowing the crowd by pulling a dove out of his derriere.
So far, so good, but where’s the ‘but’ you’d be right to enquire? The answer, oddly, lies in the album’s more instant accessibility. The beauty of Antidotes was that it rewarded the repeat listener, taking longer to ‘click’ and therefore cementing its longevity. Whereas Antidotes was a grower, TLF is a lot more welcoming right off the bat, and so runs the risk of falling out of favour all the more rapidly. Let’s hope I’m proven wrong. Dan Ashcroft