Albums Of The Week

Packed with vim and vigour

Foals' fourth album What Went Down revels in its sound and fury

Foals comprise (above from left) Edwin Congreave, Jack Bevan, Jimmy Smith, Yannis Philippakis and Walter Gervers.
Foals comprise (above from left) Edwin Congreave, Jack Bevan, Jimmy Smith, Yannis Philippakis and Walter Gervers. PHOTO: WARNER MUSIC

In the two gigs that British band Foals have played in Singapore, the quintet's fiery performances showed how massive their music can get in a live setting.

What Went Down, the fourth album from the Oxford group, sees the band finally getting the aggro of their shows onto their recorded work. Perhaps influenced by the band's relentless touring schedule and multiple festival appearances, the 10 tracks erupt with vim and vigour.

The math rock intricacies of their past works have been tempered with sharp and focused arrangements, while shimmering keyboards duel with chunky guitar riffs.

The title track opens the album and sets the mood with its stadium-sized aura, a brazen tune layered with droning guitars, keyboards and frontman Yannis Philippakis barking about his guilt and redemption.

Snake Oil is a groovy, stoner-rock monster, held together by an insistent beat and gargantuan, Zeppelin-like riffs as Philippakis sings of quack remedies: "You put the snake oil under my tongue/Show me the door, the way to be free/Cause you know the moves that only you do/Makes fools of a boy like me."




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Make no mistake, this is still a Foals record and it is not long before straightforward rhythms give way to edgy club tracks.

Drummer Jack Bevan is in top form - Mountain At My Gates starts out with an irresistible dance beat and big, booming drum sounds just begging to be sampled, before it climaxes in a breakneck, punkish blowout.

It is not the only track that takes a wild turn midway.

Albatross ("You got an albatross around your neck/You got one hundred broken lightbulbs above your head") has a major to minor chord transition that makes you sit up and take notice.

Album closer A Knife In The Ocean, on the other hand, has a gorgeous build-up anchored by Bevan's shuffling drum beat and mournful guitars, while Lonely Hunter, in which Philippakis sings of regret, is a moody number that you can imagine dancing alone to.

The band venture into Afro-pop territory on Night Swimmers, brandishing a Fela Kuti-inspired beat that later merges with classic 808 style drum machine beats at the tail end of the tune.

Give It All is the new album's version of Spanish Sahara, one of the band's most recognised tunes from 2010's Total Life Forever.

A sparse, Foals-style ballad marked by Philippakis' sense of longing, it brings a sense of balance to an album that revels in its sound and fury.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline Packed with vim and vigour. Subscribe