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Antidotes [Cd Album] CD
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It's hardly the cure for anything but Antidotes, the debut album from Oxford's Foals, is a strong addition to the eternal tradition of dance-friendly art rock most recently exemplified by Franz Ferdinand and Klaxons. The five ex-public schoolboys that make up Oxford's Foals are hardly lacking self-confidence--comically cocky frontman Yannis Phillipakis could annoy for the nation and the band rejected producer David Sitek's original mix--but Antidotes is anything but pony. After spending their youth in rigorous "math rock" outfits, Foals started out in 2005 with the stated intention of having fun. Rather delightfully, this amounted to the discovery that audiences are well disposed to acts they can dance to. A clutch of well-received singles and a guest spot on popular sixth-form satire Skins sealed their popularity. Their origins in academic rock are sometimes obvious, but fine drummer Jack Bevan keeps things moving throughout. Opener "The French Open", with its gleeful chanted vocals (in French) and fashionable Afrobeat tinged guitar lines, evokes Talking Heads' dada nonsense classic "I Zimbra", itself older than any Foal. First top thirty hit "Cassius" saw jazz-punk back in the charts for the first time since that perennial football crowd favourite "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag". "Olympic Airways" is a charming if oblique tale of escape that couldn't be further from the bus stop/chip shop style while "Red Socks Pugie" already sounds like a single in waiting. The lyrics might charitably be described as impressionistic and Phillipakis's voice remains nondescript. But with better tunes than Bloc Party and a self-conscious precision that recalls Mogwai in their pomp, the effortlessly pretentious Foals are unmistakably the sound of 2008. --Steve JelbertSee all Product description
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Yeah, someone says that about a fledgling band every year, sometimes more than once. But this little Oxford band has what it takes, and "Antidotes" is a gloriously energetic debut album -- mellow, bright rock'n'roll that makes you dance and bounce, yet has some postrock spaciness, nimble electronics and clever funky twists to keep things interesting. And it actually gets better as it goes on.
It opens on a relatively simple note -- "The French Open," an jazzy-funky little pop intro that periodically erupts into solid dancy rock. "Un peu d'air sur la terre/D'air sur la/D'air sur la/D'air sur la terre!"
With that as the intro, they leap wholeheartedly into the cocky, rollicking "Cassius," with its muscular riffs and confusingly jabby lyrics ("Cassius, it's over! You're second best!"). And with "Red Sock Pugie," we get another catchy indie-rock melody -- but wrapped in a shimmering post-rock blanket, riddled with kettle drums.
And most of the songs that follow linger somewhere between those two styles -- ringing circling pop with convulsing violins, moody rock tunes, fast funky dance music, fast-moving spacey tunes with airy fantastical lyrics, and a shimmering pop anthem in "Big Big Love (Fig. 2)."
The Foals seem to wind down the album with the catchy "Like Swimming," a little instrumental that sounds like eavesdropping on a tropical pool party. Then they yank you back up for the final song "Tron," a dark little rocker with tight, muscular instrumentation and chirruping guitars.
The Foals don't seem satisfied just by making music that makes you dance -- they seem to be striving for something cool yet fun, clever yet not pretentious. And they apparently want a mishmash style -- if you listen carefully, the indie-rock sound is infused with elements of funk, dance, and shimmering hazy spaciness. All this, and it's fun too.
Part of what makes their music so appealing is the versatility -- we've got powerful bouncy riffs, undercurrents of grainy bass, and solid, hollow-sounding drums keeping the music energetic. But they can also make those instruments do some very odd things -- their guitars alone are a sonic circus, chirping or creaking or spiraling around in glittering loops.
And then you get the really out-there stuff -- blares of Afrobeat brass, the occasional kettle drums, shimmers of keyboard, and some pedal guita to, as it's been reported around the Web, "mimic the sound of the solar system." I don't really know what a solar system sounds like, but I presume that's the gloriously spacey, shimmery sound that wafts through most of these songs.
Yannis Philippakis always sounds like he's about to run out of breath, but his flexible voice has enough energy to keep up with the music. And for a beginner band, the Foals have a knack for lyrics, filled with "butcher birds," falling towers, nameless fuels, exploding hearts, and eating clouds to pass the time when you're not fighting vampires. Isn't that great?
The Foals at first sound like just another art-rock band, but these guys have a special knack for effortlessly mixing elaborate cross-genre indie-rock with energetic dance. Keep an eye on these lads.
The only thing wrong with the album is prodction. The whole point of Foals' music is that it is multi layed and raw, and this album has lost some of that. Seeing them live will really make the listener appreciate them fully. Personally I dont like the use of saxaphone, and many of the songs have changed drastically from the original demos, mainly being mellowed out.
The 2cd version is the better deal, you get live recordings, which show what the main album was getting at, it just couldnt quite get there
Overall a good album for someone that is tired of typical indie and who wants to be absorbed into something very different.
So how does it sound then? In a word; lively. That's one of the most striking things about this album, the perpetually clean and clear guitar plays some of the sharpest most upbeat riffs I have ever heard. Whilst being touted as mathcore this music is not amazingly complex or technical, but that really doesn't matter. There's no Johnny Marr behind this with layers of lucious interweaving melodies playing off against each other and making a rich musical tapestry, but again; that doesn't matter.
Whatever it is Foals are doing here it is very captivating. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the songs which makes them so endearing. I should note when I say simplicity that I don't mean Kooks style, I just mean the arrangements aren't overly complex; there's plenty of variety however from skittering electronica to african horn sections to subdued melodies and back to the aforementioned punctuated guitar sound. This is perhaps the best use of varied instrumentation I have heard since Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (and that's a compliment; if you don't have that album then do yourself a favour and get it).
Vocals then? Nothing outstanding here for my money; just a Southern English man with an accent; sometimes shouty and othertimes more melodic. I don't wish to deride the singer here, the vocals are perfectly adequate and there are some nice melodies in places, I am simply saying that it's nothing amazing.
Lyrics? All very cryptic really; lots of nice evocative imagery and imaginative use of words which I enjoyed but I can't really claim to know what many of the songs are actually about... didn't stop me enjoying the album though and I don't see why it would do for anyone else.
Overall I would recommend this to anyone, even... no, especially Non-Indie fans (as it may convert you). It's lively, upbeat and simplistic. Nice happy music for any occasion :)
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