Renowned for their cerebral approach to the complexities of prog, math-rock and post-punk, Oxfordshire quintet Foals have steadily positioned themselves as one of the most obvious contenders to Radiohead’s intelligent guitar band throne since arriving on a British alternative scene filled with landfill indie outfits back in 2008. However, their third album, Holy Fire, feels like a more concerted effort to swap the university halls of their hometown for arenas and possibly even stadiums thanks to a mixture of indie-disco anthems and heartfelt swelling ballads alongside universal reflections on both the jubilation and dejection of love. Here’s a look at five sets of lyrics which perhaps best showcase their newfound relatable spirit.
The first sign of how Foals have stepped up a gear or two, lead single “Inhaler” explodes from delicate funk to monstrous swamp-rock on a thrilling, if schizophrenic, affair which almost collapses with exhaustion. Indeed, Philippakis sounds in absolute agony as he pleads and begs for a pardon – if only for the small matter of 24 hours – from a damaging and potentially life-threatening relationship which has left him feeling so choked that it’s triggered his asthma: [LISTEN]
Sticks and stones don’t break my bones, you make believe
It’s lock and load, it’s a dead end road to you and me
You know what’s to go, I’m strict for soul
I make believe
And I’m off the rent, I haven’t spent, I guarantee
A welcome bit of respite from the album’s prevalent themes of heartache, misery and pain, the harmony-laden “Everytime” harks back to the lush production of Total Life Forever as Philippakis, in a refreshingly happier and more lovestruck state of mind, fantasizes over a wave of angular guitars, shimmering synths and propulsive beats about leaving all the trappings of modern life behind and taking to the high seas the object of his affections:
Come run this way, ride this wave
Follow, I promise you’ll be okay
Come this way
Be that way, be that way
Want you, I need you to be okay
What do they know?
The album’s big ‘not a dry eye in the house’ moment, “Late Night” deals with the anguish, sorrow and guilt that comes with the prospect of losing someone who has always been an emotional crutch. Yannis has understandably never sounded so intense as he recalls the connection they shared but there appears to be hope at the end of the tunnel as the nocturnal atmospherics slowly segue into a more joyous fusion of echo-laden riffs and funky bass-lines: [LISTEN]
Oh, I hoped that you were somebody,
Someone I could count
To pull me to my feet again,
When I was in doubt.
Oh now Mama, do you hear me
Calling out your name?
Putting on a brave front by insisting that he now feels more alive since he distanced himself from both his ex and the actual setting where their love once blossomed, the band’s most blatant bid for the Top 40 sugar-coats Philippakis’ dismissal of the past with a conflictingly infectious blend of tropical riffs, soaring pop melodies and tight disco grooves which suggest that Chic’s back catalogue was appointed the official soundtrack to the split: [LISTEN]
We don’t need any trouble now
Who create all the culture
We can move beyond it now
The wolves is knocking at my door
Them bang-bangin’, ask for more
There are few things more all-encompassing than the countdown to an apocalypse and Foals certainly don’t disappoint on their attempt to soundtrack the end of the world with this strangely calming slice of atmospheric post-rock which combines nightmarish visions of blood-stained bridal gowns and wild beasts roaming fields with carefree memories and a quiet realization that everything happens for a reason. A suitably mesmerising closer to an ambitiously giant leap of a record: [LISTEN]
The world is quiet
There is nothing left unsaid
A million image, million capture, million dead
And all the birds fall out of the sky in two by two’s
And my teeth fall out my head into the snow