Thursday, March 14, 2019

Album Review: Foals - Part 1: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost

Foals' first new album in almost five years is the first of a two-disc project and is almost dizzying in its diversity. In that sense it feels more like a collection of songs than a cohesive statement, but it'll take a listen alongside part two to assess that for certain. What's absolutely undeniable however is the fascination for the 80's styles and sounds. In fact, each track seems influenced by an artist of the era. It is unknown how conscious those references are, but they are very obvious.
Thankfully the modern, layered production helps anchor this new album in the now and saves it from becoming too derivative. It also helps that the songs are very good.

Moonlight is reminiscent of David Sylvian and starts with lush synthesiser soundscapes and exquisite guitar arpeggios, progressively adding electronics to funk things up a bit.

Exits is a funky dance/pop tune in the vein of Duran Duran or Let’s Dance-era Bowie, which is the same thing come to think of it...

White Onions channels the Cure when Robert Smith is on his happy pills. Perhaps not the most interesting era of the Cure, but the most fun for sure.

In Degrees is a disco track and could be a Depeche Mode Club Remix.

Syrups is the outsider of the record: a groovy, almost gothic blues number that the Black Keys could have recorded on their Brothers LP, the guitar playing in unison with the synths while a moody trance builds up is one of the highlights.

On The Luna boasts a ferocious, quasi punk guitar part and has a bit of a U2 feel.

Cafe d’Athens, with its Gamelan-inspired marimbas and vibraphones, jungle backbeat, ethereal vocals and dense synthesisers is a little reminiscent of Discipline-era King Crimson. It's a great track stylistically but lacks a little bit in the composition department.

Surf, Pt.1 is a short New Age-y interlude which is pleasant but not indispensable and segues into Sunday, the first real ballad of the set until things get funky and electronic disco sounds take over. It sounds a little like Teas For Fears and is this reviewer’s favourite track on the record for its dynamics and epic melody.

I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me) is another sumptuous ballad led by a chiming piano part over dreamy soundscapes. It ends on a pretty ambient piano tone and is a great capper for the record.

All those references don't mean Foals has no identity, on the contrary. They are a part of their identity. The breadth and scope of the record are very ambitious and as a standalone LP it holds its own, but also leaves us wanting more and excited for part 2.

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