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Building on the worst aspects of their previous record
on 18 February 2013
I adored Antidotes and loved Total Life Forever, but the only times TLF didn't strike a chord with me was when the tracks were on the wrong side of ordinary. Call them what you like, but Foals were never ordinary. But the rare uninspired moment on TLF was far outweighed by the shimmering and heart-stopping ones around them.
Sadly, Holy Fire sees Foals lose their mojo as far as I'm concerned. Yet, it is not without merit.
It starts well enough with Prelude and Inhaler, but the biggest red flag imaginable then raises itself in the shape of the horrifically bad My Number. A lightweight pop/funk ditty with no emotion, soul, punch or thrust. It's candy floss for the ears and by far the worst song they've ever written. Bad Habit is not much better, being an instantly forgettable MOR pop-indie-rock-by-numbers filler.
Everytime is marginally better and has a decent hook, but it all still sounds rather uninspired. Thankfully, Late Night provides some redemption. A slow-burn, slow-build track full of tension and soul, this is what I paid my money for. Next track Out of the Woods is sadly a damp squib of a track. The band don't sound like they're particularly interested by this point, which begs the question: why should we be?
Milk & Black Spiders is thankfully much more interesting and engaging, and the clattering Providence piques the interest albeit in rather directionless fashion. Stepson is a real beauty of a tune but then the album closer Moon brings a downbeat and dour ending to proceedings.
Overall, Foals always engaged me because they sounded like nobody else and their music was so damn powerful. For me, on Holy Fire, they've lost that power to inspire me and now sound like a middling indie band trying to sound like Foals. Either they're trying too hard or not hard enough, I can't quite decide.
I wanted to love this album. It has the odd great moment, but nowhere near enough. Parts of it may yet grow on me, yet after quite a few listens I can see this as a record that doesn't get many airings in the future, I'm very sad to say.