Review by Roshan Krishnan
Foals has always been an odd little contradiction of a band. Their origins lie in math rock, a decidedly non-mainstream genre. Foals’ mercurial frontman, Yannis Philippakis, is an unapologetic hipster who detests catering to the lowest common denominator. Yet they don’t lack ambitions of mass-appeal. Foals’ goal is and has been to sell boatloads of albums and fill stadiums—and incredibly, they appear to be succeeding, especially with the advent of their latest album, Holy Fire.
The follow-up to the rather up-and-down debut Antidotes and stronger sophomore outing Total Life Forever, Holy Fire starts off with a typical, ambient, very Foals-y “Prelude.” The second track, lead single “Inhaler,” appears to be much of the same and leaves one wondering whether Foals has gotten a little bit too comfortable with the minimalist sound they achieved in Total Life Forever—that is, until one minute and forty-five seconds in, when Philippakis screams, “I CAN’T GET ENOUGH—SPACE!” and all hell breaks loose with what might be the most epic resolution of tension in a song we’ve heard all year. The heavy, distortion-laden guitar riff is certainly new ground for Foals, and it’s welcome.
The remainder of the first half of the album is somewhat less face-melting, though just as good—the ridiculously catchy dance tracks “My Number” and “Everytime” stand out especially. However, the album tails off toward the end, meandering back into the mellow territory that Total Life Forever occupied. It’s not bad by any means, but after the excitement of the first half of the album, it does get a tad bit boring.
Still, if Foals aimed to create mass-market, stadium-filling rock, they certainly succeeded. And it’s some pretty darn solid music as well.
4 stars out of 5
Holy Fire by Foals
Released on February 11th, 2013