In the four years since their last release, Foals have been exceptionally busy. Everything Not Saved Will be Lost is a twofold project encompassing Part 1 (released March 8) and Part 2 which will drop later in 2019. Whilst previous albums have been characterised by off-balance, indie feels, Part 1 is anything but. A tightly oiled cog of a rock record which befits a band claiming festival headliner slots.
The spaced-out melancholia of ‘Spanish Sahara’ is long gone. With its cavernous sound and rhapsodic chorus, listening to single ‘Exits’ through headphones is a pointless venture. This track is built for stadiums.
Easily winning the populist vote on Spotify, ‘On the Luna’ emerges as a rehash of the catchy-hook and funk formula which was set by hit ‘My Number’, but with a far sleeker punch. ‘Sunday’ melts the tempo, almost breaking into the realm of psychedelia before collapsing in on itself, wielding a fuzz thumping beat destined to go down a treat with big crowds.
All subtlety is cast aside in ‘White Onions’, which ripples with controlled intensity, fluid percussion and steady post-rock riffs. Yannis Philippakis’ lyrics - “I see a maze, a break the cage” - evoke cement forms and anguish. The album’s ethos is in these words: a ferocious eruption which challenges the notion that guitar music has lost its potency.
The dazzlingly unexpected finale ‘I’m Done With the World (& It’s Done With me)’ shimmers synth notes and serene piano chords that touch upon Nick Cave. A howling Philippakis delivers his disturbing eulogy - dead foxes, ominous country lanes and a sleeping daughter - to a world in chaos.
Self-production, especially styled by the infamously bolshie group, is always a risky business. But as with 2008’s endeavour Antidotes, the decision has paid off. Part 1’ s streamlined confidence is more than well deserved. Feeling nostalgic, I do miss some of the raw jitteriness evident on early tracks like ‘Cassius’ which reflected Foals’ humble beginnings perfecting their sound at imitate house parties. Occasionally, a hint of the past breaks through. Danceable cowbell ‘In Degrees’ sends me back to Friendly Fires on Glastonbury’s pyramid stage, circa 2011. ("What are they up to now?" One wonders). Formerly in league with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Wild Beasts and the Maccabees, Foals have either outlasted or grown far bigger than them all. For those of us who have been with the band since the beginning, Part 1 is a testament to that development.