Oxford indie-rock favourites produce their best work to date on a monumental fifth record which brims with creativity whilst commentating on global disarray.
‘In their well-established career to date, Foals have become both a bands-band and a group for all’
When Foals first emerged on the British indie-rock scene in 2008 with debut record Antidotes, nobody could have predicted the meteoric rise of the band who have now released five albums of sublime quality and have headlined festivals across the globe. In their well-established career to date, Foals have become both a bands-band and a group for all.
Their instrumental complexity is admired by musicians whilst their iconic indie-rock anthems have amassed a cult-like loyalty. With frontman Yannis Phillipakis becoming a rock icon in his own right, the Oxford band have followed the ferocious and direct riff-powered fourth record What Went Down with a kaleidoscopic fifth record of sublime quality.
Despite bassist Walter Gervers’ departure before writing for the fifth record begun, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost-Part 1 is a genre-defining screenshot of an all-too-realistic dystopian fantasy, highlighting modernity’s fragility and tendency to implode. With its surrealistic introduction and sweeping array of synths and guitar, the complex and atmospheric ‘Moonlight’ sets the scene for the album’s dystopian joyride.
‘Jack Bevan’s swaggering drums spaces the single’s instrumentation, allowing subtle flourishes of guitar to weave an inscrutably obsessive rhythm, whilst a maelstrom of twinkling synths flicker beneath Phillipakis’ rich vocals.’
A lurching, funk-rock thriller containing a stadium-sized chorus, ‘Exits’ embeds itself within your mind within seconds. Jack Bevan’s swaggering drums spaces the single’s instrumentation, allowing subtle flourishes of guitar to weave an inscrutably obsessive rhythm, whilst a maelstrom of twinkling synths flicker beneath Phillipakis’ rich vocals. Based around current post-millennial dread and discourse, ‘Exits’ is highly Orwellian in its lyrical guise, as lines ‘Cause they watch us in sleep / And the language that we speak / And the secrets that we keep’, strike out at today’s surveillance culture, whilst the luxurious and expansive breakdown section remains an integral aspect to the four-piece’s sound.
‘Exits’ is highly Orwellian in its lyrical guise (and) strike(s) out at today’s surveillance culture
The textured synth-rock contraption ‘On The Luna’ showcases Foals’ ability to swiftly adapt to new styles within the track itself. With a smooth, yet probing percussion chorus build-up, a purring guitar and bass combination builds to a growling crescendo which launches back into the track’s hazily delightful chorus. Whilst musically the single is an instant crowd pleaser, it stands out as a vicious critique of the relaxed way in which humankind is currently living.
Despite the record’s seriousness, Foals still remain capable of offering an airy playfulness, with ‘Cafe D’Athens’ ‘ unique combination of marimba, xylophone and vibraphone. The slowly-stalking psychedelic trip Syrups also offers artistic development with the dominant bass groove leading to extended jam-like sessions between verses before an insurgent guitar riff picks up on Phillipakis’ howling vocals, which eventually year into an insatiable chasm of noise, reminding listeners that ‘Life is what you make it’.
‘In Degrees lament(s) about how relationships with loved ones disintegrate with time and distance’
‘In Degrees’ similarly borrows from the band’s past, shifting charming fan-favourite ‘My Number’ into a dangerously exciting new era, with its slinking, electronic production providing a hedonistic joy to all listening. Propelled by a LCD Soundsystem-inspired beat, the house-rock crossover is a provocative synth-heavy sensation and perhaps Foals’ best track to date, lamenting about how relationships with loved ones disintegrate with time and distance.
‘The piece later transforms into an ethereal disco-rock fusion, with fast-paced and demanding percussion combining with urgent vocals and a hastening bass arrangement’
Whilst the majority of the new record is set on narrating a pending apocalypse, the closing two tracks appear acceptant of humanity’s future fate. The woozy, alternative-rock sway of ‘Sunday’ gently extends the band’s melodic capabilities. A sonic equivalent to the cosy, warmth of Sunday mornings, Phillipakis’ vocals lift the single to new heights.
The piece later transforms into an ethereal disco-rock fusion, with fast-paced and demanding percussion combining with urgent vocals and a hastening bass arrangement. A barnstorming roller-coaster ride, the song reflects on what a young person does near the end of the world. Arranged to perfection, lyrics ‘Cause time away from me / Is what I need to clear my sight and clear my head’ fittingly reflect the growing mental health pandemic worldwide.
‘The softer approach of the final two tracks breathes forgiveness whilst lyrically, the burden of environmental decay and global bipolarity seems to have crushed the modern theologist within Phillipakis’ burgeoning mind’
Album closer ‘I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me)’ is a serenely beautiful piano ballad narrating the band’s dismay at what the world has become. With lyrics like ‘The hedges are on fire in the county lanes / And all I wanna do is get out of the rain’, the song is a masterpiece of narrative songwriting and perhaps Foals’ most touching and haunting production since ‘Spanish Sahara’.
A curtain of squealing synths wraps itself around Phillipakis’ yearning vocals to bring the record to its conclusion. The softer approach of the final two tracks breathes forgiveness whilst lyrically, the burden of environmental decay and global bipolarity seems to have crushed the modern theologist within Phillipakis’ burgeoning mind.
There lies a unique intelligence within Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost…Part 1. By enticing listeners in with groove-laden musicality, the band are able to inject dark, hard-hitting lyrics to make their fans double-back and think about how they live their lives. ‘On The Luna’s’ ‘We’ve had it all but we didn’t stop to think about it’ and ‘Sunday’s’ ‘Our fathers run and leave the damage they’ve done behind / Left us with the blind leading the blind’ act as commentary on the current nativity of the current generation.
‘they’ve weathered the storms of musical fads, they’ve found gaps in the industry to support their survival and more importantly they’ve remained resolutely independent’
A vital soundtrack for a world descending into disarray, it seems almost fitting that Foals have released a record narrating an apocalyptic fantasy. Throughout their career, they’ve weathered the storms of musical fads, they’ve found gaps in the industry to support their survival and more importantly they’ve remained resolutely independent. The staggering observation with Foals is that there has never been a point on their journey to date in which they have looked to be collapsing into the growing quagmire of indie landfill. With undoubtedly the record of the year so far, you have to almost look back in awe to think that its follow up is set to be released in just six months time.
Featured Image courtesy of Foals Official Facebook Page.