“One of the things we feel we’ve struggled with before is that our creative desire and ambition has not been able to be conveyed on a 40-minute, 10-track album,” complained Foals frontman Yannis Phillippakis earlier this year. Most other bands seem to manage it, but nevertheless, here comes the Oxford quartet’s solution to this conundrum: part two of their double whammy “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost”.
The first (admittedly impressive) part came out back in March, and found the boys in experimental mode, with excursions into everything from indie disco-friendly house to 80’s inspired Talking Heads funk. Half a year later and here’s their no less assured follow up. If part 1 was an expansion then this is a logical contraction back into the big, riff-riddled stadium style rock of 2015’s “What Went Down”.
It’s an approach best showcased on “Black Bull”, which finds a raw-throated Phillippakis howling, whooping and letting loose his Neanderthal side. The thumping “Like Lightning” is even less bothered with subtlety and goes full bore arena rock – no bad thing at all tbh.
But this is Foals we’re talking about, and so brain will always win out over brawn. Once the hullabaloo of their full tilt material dies down, what remains are moments of beauty and fragility like on “10,000 Feet”, where we are invited to imagine “drifting upwards through red skies to the infra-red” over sampled sounds of wildlife.
Speaking of the natural world, the album ends with the sprawling “Neptune” – a billowing hymn to the inevitable triumph of nature whose length belies it’s grace. Lovely stuff – maybe they really do need more than one album to fit everything in.
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