2008 saw the Oxford quintet rise to prominence with their debut album Antidotes
entering the UK charts at number three. From these early days playing house parties, to selling-out incendiary tours across the UK and the world, stand-out TV performances, and exhilarating festival appearances, they set the stage perfectly for their much-anticipated sophomore effort Total Life Forever
, including the single "This Orient".
Foals, suggests Total Life Forever
, are thinkers. Whereas most bands seem comfortable dropping a second album that sounds a lot like the first one but recorded a bit quicker, this Oxfordshire quintet have done their utmost to reinvent themselves as every turn. Largely gone is the furious dance-punk that powered their earlier singles, already beginning to fade as they dropped their 2008 debut Antidotes
. Replacing it on Total Life Forever
is a broader musical canvas that is becoming becomes increasingly hard to pigeonhole. Recorded with producer Luke Smith, formerly of Clor, songs like "After Glow" and "This Orient" are voluminous, heavily textured exercises in atmospherics and percussion that draw on shoegaze, the Fourth World funk of later Talking Heads and experimental electronica.
This is not to say, however, that Foals have entirely bred out their pop gene. "Miami" fuses boom-bap beats with a stiff funkiness and fluid guitar lines that recall Battles, while the title track is a cool ska strut that finds Yannis Philippakis crooning "I know a place where I can go when I'm low". It’s not all immediate, but Total Life Forever is plainly crafted with care and attention, the sort of record that sinks gradually into your consciousness and stays put. –-Louis Pattison