It's been nearly three years since Foals released their stunning second album Total Life Forever, and I wasn't really sure how and if they were going to top it upon their return. However, extensive touring and time back in the studio was clearly just the tonic, because their new release, Holy Fire is equally, if not even more, dazzling.
Total Life Forever demonstrated the band's ability to create a more mature and disciplined sound in comparison to their spritely debut, and this feel is continued in their new material. However, a more regulated style certainly doesn't equate to a lack of riffs or energy, and both are evident in abundance from the offset. Aptly named opening track 'Prelude' provides a distinct taste of what can be expected in the following ten tracks. Slowly building, electrifying chords and drum beats layer upon each other until fit to burst before tumbling with anticipation into lead single 'Inhaler'. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis is provided the opportunity to show off his vocal prowess here, flitting between high-pitched tones and impassioned shouting, driving the track forward with a sense of eager desperation. The chorus is a beautifully frenzied muddle of riffs and chords and will provide the perfect opportunity for Philippakis to lose all inhibitions and go crazy on stage; something he is somewhat known for during the band's live performances.
'My Number' is the most mainstream, pop-sounding track on the record but is also undeniably one of the standouts, both in terms of exceptionality and it's comparable nature, with its catchy lyrics and bopping underlying beat. However, those looking for more of this mainstream-esque regalia on the album will be sorely disappointed as the following tracks 'Bad Habit' and 'Everytime' resume proceedings in a controlled and intent manner. With additionally poignant lyrics such as 'Everytime I see you/I want to sail away' and ''Cause I'm a bad habit/One you cannot shake/And I hope that I change', you start to wonder if Foals are getting soppy in their old age. What happened to the light-hearted and nonsensical lyrics we heard in their debut? They are long gone, but arguably, all for the better. Seemingly meaningless and jovial lyrics are all very well if you're having a laugh but it's obvious that Foals are determined to be taken seriously as a band and not just another indie-rock fad. A change in lyrical tone paired with cultivated and immersive percussion-based instrumentals prove they have taken the perfect steps in sealing their fate for longevity. The only question now is how on earth can they make an even more impressive fourth album?
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