Foals’ seventh studio album is a departure from the grungier sounds of ‘What Went Down’ and ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ (‘I’ and ‘II’), but will embed itself within the Foals’ discography with ease; a mature and developed album that feels like an absolute triumph. Alex Tearle reviews…
After the slightly disappointing ‘ENSWBL II’, Foals had big boots to fill to impress its longstanding and diehard fanbase. A move to indie rock (away from their famous alternative and sometimes grungy sound) was therefore really quite risky, an attempt at something the band haven’t tried since My Number or Olympic Airways, both known for their ‘math rock’ style guitar work, rather than their upbeat tone. This said, Foals fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief with ‘Life Is Yours’, an album that has all the complexities of ‘Antidotes’, but a far more relaxed an upbeat tone, just in time for summer.
The album is thematically flawless, designed to be enjoyed on the dance floor with your friends; a refreshing direction that can be seen from the album cover to the final track. The lyrics are excellent, oozing with style and charm, clearly the reason Yannis Philippakis is so adored as a vocalist. Songs like Under The Radar feature quick-paced vocals, with satisfying lines like, “Her mind is on the run / a badly loaded gun to extinguish how she comes across”; a great use of imagery. This could be considered quintessential indie rock nonsense, but the song continues to feature a deep voiced middle 8 section that is a complete departure from the other style of lyrics, one that still fits the tone of the track, proving that the new directions attempted here are really successful.
Songs like 2001 speak of “summer rain” and “sugar rushes”
There’s a surprising depth to these lyrics too, with 2am speaking of sad nights out alone, adding a slightly sombre (yet welcome) tone to the album. This said, songs like 2001 speak of “summer rain” and “sugar rushes”, returning to imagery of sunshine, and the beauty of the natural world.
There are nods to prior albums in these lyrics as well, with the introductory song, Life is Yours, describing, “all roads lead[ing] back to the Ocean”, a clear nod to fan favourite, A Knife in the Ocean. The lyrics in this album feel familiar, but new; a great new direction for the band.
A treat for any fans of guitar music
Though the new ideas are excellent, the guitars on this album are like a love letter to early Foals. Flutter has an immense and brilliant bassline, with an incredible picked melody, rife with pull offs and slides; a treat for any fans of guitar music. This is topped with a simplistic but incredibly effective drum beat and power chords, using a little bit of distortion to remind fans of modern songs like White Onions and Wash Off, yet simultaneously mirroring the guitar style of songs like Two Steps, Twice, that made the band famous.
2am is another track for guitar enthusiasts, with another fantastic bassline and a brilliant melody (this time using synths), topped with an incredible riff. For other bands, this level of complexity would be reserved for solos, but Foals show their talent in every single track. All the songs on this album are this developed, with flawless musicianship throughout. Though not every song may be to every listener’s taste, I struggle to think of a single flaw in any song in this record.
In fact, 2am might take the top spot as my favourite Foals song ever. The track features a brilliant picking section, strong summer melancholy vibes, stunning vocals, and satisfying cymbals. It’s a testament to how excellent this record is that so many of these songs feel this well developed, enjoyable and well produced; a sign of an incredibly successful album.
Wild Green is another particularly beautiful send–off from the band, mirroring the themes of the rest of the album but summarising the record well. A simple tambourine beat backs a thoroughly enjoyable dance background, featuring lines like, “Spring is on the way”, reminding listeners of the album’s message. Foals are particularly known for their ‘final songs’ but this one is especially enjoyable and poignant.
Another example of the album putting across the album’s message: that life should be enjoyable and treasured
The repeated and elongated, “beautiful” in the back of The Sound, is another example of the album putting across the album’s message: that life should be enjoyable and treasured, and that we should make the most of every experience, an admirable direction that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. This message shines through in the band’s music videos, a far more exciting and colourful direction than some of their prior videos (Looking at you, What Went Down). The NME best music video winning Wake Me Up is a prime example of this, a frankly gorgeous single take video that represents the colour and excitement of the record, filled with confetti and dancing; a real treat.
Since receiving early access to this album, I’ve been unable to stop listening to ‘Life Is Yours’. The album flows flawlessly, features impressive talent, and is clearly the result of hours in the studio. There’s nothing here that sticks out as a glaring flaw, either. The tracks stand out on their own, have lyrical depth, are musically diverse, and successfully attempt new styles; all signs of a perfect album. This record takes my pick as album of the year, and Foals should be incredibly proud of this project.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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