The two-part album is a rare species in mainstream music, its a big risk that can make an artist’s inconsistencies painfully clear. This year, Foals have proven they possess both the grand designs and the musical skill to pull one off with Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost.
“Seven months later, Part 2 is here, and it is exactly what a sequel should be”
Part 1 (which Impact gave a perfect score back in March) was a Mercury-nominated record that could easily stand up on its own. It created a chilling world through its lyrics, coated in shimmering synth grooves. Seven months later, Part 2 is here, and it is exactly what a sequel should be.
“Vocalist Yannis Philippakis continues to build a beautifully broken world through the album’s ten songs”
Vocalist Yannis Philippakis continues to build a beautifully broken world through the album’s ten songs (two of which are instrumental). Just as before, it is an album for our times. Yannis coos, crows, and wails about a world upside down, paranoid and burning, without ever being too gloomy.
The dark pictures are painted with elegance, making them more than just ‘sad’. There are numerous references and allusions through the album, from Greek myth to Bowie songs that make it a little more than your standard rock album, too.
“‘Black Bull’s’ unswerving arrogance charges forward with screamed verses and a thundering riff”
Not that Foals have forgotten how to rock. Part 2 does heavy, stomping arena anthems, and it does them well. ‘Black Bull’s’ unswerving arrogance charges forward with screamed verses and a thundering riff. Its exhilarating, even if it does stick out a little bit from its sheer lack of restraint. It comes after the most ‘Foals’ track on the album, ‘Wash Off’, where the jangly guitar skips about in a similar way to the now-classic ‘My Number’, or Part 1’s ‘White Onions’.
The distorted guitar, claps and backing vocals of ‘Like Lightning’ make it a rock-solid piece of blues-rock. ‘The Runner’ is a similarly punchy track, kicking the album off with an infectious riff, springing straight out of the instrumental introduction, ‘Red Desert’. ‘The Runner’ has an air of paranoia which, combined with some glimpses of trauma in ‘Black Bull’ (‘foreshortened future’ being a PTSD symptom), hints at a narrator that has really been affected by the events of Part 1.
“One of my favourite tracks on the album, ‘Into the Surf’, deals with death in an utterly gorgeous way”
After a short interlude with ‘Ikaria’, the album starts to take on a different tone. One of my favourite tracks on the album, ‘Into the Surf’, deals with death in an utterly gorgeous way. Speaking to a far-away lover or relative, it carries a tragic mix of sadness and acceptance, and is accompanied by an ethereal, icy synth melody that also appeared on Part 1’s ‘Surf, Pt.1’.
“Its airy opening is crushed within seconds by bass and drums that march mesmerisingly downward”
Before this, we get ‘10,000 Feet’. Its airy opening is crushed within seconds by bass and drums that march mesmerisingly downward. Jack Bevan’s drums are sometimes reminiscent of John Bonham’s on ‘When the Levee Breaks’. Also dealing with death, this track gets the award for best opening lines with: ‘When I fall through the air, flew too close to the sun/With my wings all bound and twisted into one’. As well as being magnificently performed by Yannis, it’s a great call-back to the hubris shown on ‘Black Bull’.
“It is slow-burning, grand, and utterly wonderful”
Now for the kicker. The closer to Foals’ two-part journey is a ten-minute epic. It is slow-burning, grand, and utterly wonderful. We can only applaud Foals’ confidence in putting this piece of creative expression on an album that also wants to cater for the rock mainstream.
‘Neptune’ ebbs and flows between surging rock crescendos, wailing, screeching guitar solos, and emotional verses wishing for an escape both from England and, seemingly, death itself. I could quote lines from the track here, but instead I’m going to tell you to just go and listen to it.
“Each track has its own unique offering, and the record has a wonderful flow from its spritely, determined start to the impassioned, yearning ending”
The range of emotion through Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 is really remarkable. It glides from anger, to paranoia, to nostalgia, to tragedy, always remaining cohesive. Each track has its own unique offering, and the record has a wonderful flow from its spritely, determined start to the impassioned, yearning ending. There is a constant restlessness that manifests itself into a fantastic sixth LP from Foals, and one of the best rock albums of the year.
By Myron Winter-Brownhill
Featured Image courtesy of Foals Official Facebook Page.
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