released June 15th, 2010

from the album - Spanish Sahara

from all music

Formed in Oxford, England, by longtime friends Yannis Philippakis (guitar) and Jack Bevan (drums), along with Andrew Mears on vocals, guitarist Jimmy Smith, and bassist Walter Gervers, Foals — whose name is a play on the etymology of Philippakis' name — began as a way to protest against the proggier sounds that were both popular in Oxford and in Philippakis and Bevan's former band, the Edmund Fitzgerald. After releasing the single "Try This on Your Piano" in 2006, Mears left Foals in order to more fully concentrate on his other group, Youthmovies (formerly Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies), and Philippakis — who had lived until he was seven in a tiny Grecian village — added the role of lead vocals to his guitar-playing duties. Edwin Congreave, a fellow Oxford student the frontman had met when they were both working at the same bar and who introduced the group to techno, soon joined in on keyboards, despite the fact he had never played the instrument before — nor ever been in a band — and the full lineup of Foals was completed. The quintet worked on perfecting its poppy, jittery, upbeat, math rock/post-punk sound by playing house parties around the area, and soon the group was signed to Transgression Records, who released the singles "Hummer" and "Mathletics" in April and August of 2007, respectively. Foals picked up quite a buzz in the U.K., and in June 2007 they went to New York to record their debut album under the guidance of producer and TV on the Radio guitarist Dave Sitek. The sessions went well, but the bandmembers ended up not being happy with the final mix, choosing instead to remix it themselves, and issuing the full-length, Antidotes — which, incidentally, included neither "Hummer" nor "Mathletics" — in March of 2008, while Sub Pop picked up the album in the U.S. and gave it an April release, adding the two neglected singles as bonus tracks. Two years later the band returned with their sophomore album, Total Life Forever, released by Transgressive Records.

album review

After Foals scrapped the mix of their debut, Antidotes, by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, it was clear that they were a band that was interested in creating their own sound. That sentiment may be why their follow-up, Total Life Forever, sounds more like a reaction to their first record than a continuation of it. Many of the elements that drove Foals into the spotlight in the first place are definitely still in place. There’s plenty of cascading, Minus the Bear-style guitar work and funky Talking Heads influence in their math-pop-meets-the-dancefloor rhythms. What’s missing is the edge. Total Life Forever is considerably more subdued than its predecessor, lacking much of the uptempo thump found on Antidotes. In its place is a mellower, more spacious sound. While this new sound is still danceable, it’s far more refined than the angular post-punk riffing that fans might be expecting. Right from the beginning, the album-opening, “Blue Blood” makes it clear that Foals are taking a different, more patient approach to songwriting, letting the song build and build on itself as it methodically works itself into a frenzy before leaving the way it came in. Because of the changes here, fans of the early, pre-Antidotes singles may find Total Life Forever to be too restrained, lacking the youthful vigor of their debut. Where some see restraint, others may very well see refinement, and those who appreciated Antidotes' more spacy passages will find that Foals' reinvention of their sound is a calculated risk that definitely pays off.

Track Listing

1 Blue Blood Foals 5:16
2 Miami Foals 3:42
3 Total Life Forever Foals 3:18
4 Black Gold Foals 6:26
5 Spanish Sahara Foals 6:49
6 This Orient Foals 4:02
7 Fugue Foals :48
8 After Glow Foals 6:08
9 Alabaster Foals 4:00
10 2 Trees Foals 5:15
11 What Remains Foals 4:37