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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.
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on 14 February 2013
....unless you want to not have the option to download onto your MP3 player. The vinyl doesn't come with the link.

All the vinyl I've ever bought has a code or link to allow you to also download onto your library. This album doesn't. Really poor form.

Cheers, Hedge
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on 15 February 2013
I was quite surprised when I heard how poppy this album was. The playing is flawless as always but as an album it just didn't excite me. Gone is the shimmering brilliance of Alabaster replaced by a more groove orientated sound which in my opinion never really engages or achieves a coherent whole. The vocals feel a bit dull and ordinary. I really loved Total Life Forever and was very excited about this release which made it all the more disappointing when I found myself struggling to get to the end of the album. I will persist as it may be a grower but I wish they had focussed on the more interesting side of their last album.
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on 11 February 2015
I've been wending my way through some new music with the help of bbc6musics alt jukebox playlist on spotify. It brought be to The Foals.
The portents were good, I liked a track I heard and checked out a few reviews.
The opening track is fantastic, I was really excited. More of that please! I was driving home from work. At some point, I realised we'd reached track 7. And it hadn't even entered my ears.
What a downer. Over produced by Flood, it makes it a dead cert for Dermot O'Learyland on R2. It turns out that The Foals are just another in a long line of grim grey flatliners like Starsailor, Travis and the like.
This album is just Embrace á la 2015. If you like that sort of music, wonderful, if you want to hear something different. Avoid. Like the plague.
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VINE VOICETOP 50 REVIEWERon 13 February 2013
It is third album in for Oxford band Foals and the bid for major league status begins here with an album which according to the band "kills their inner Woody Allen" (whatever that means!). "Holy Fire" is clearly aimed at smoothing the more spiky edges of the band and is easily their most coherent and cohesive album to date. With top producers Flood & Moulder at the helm the weight of their previous experience is brought to bear and the influence detectives will detect snatches of their work with Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails, and The Killers. Their presence has undoubtedly hardened the bands sound, made it bigger and pushed it into a place which takes the Foals vehicle screaming away from the label marked "indie". As a result some may find "Holy Fire" a bit too much like standard rock while others may hark back with fondness to the indie danceability of "Antidotes". Others may alternatively heave a quiet sigh of relief and point out that for every excellent song on previous albums there were also infuriating examples of the "far too clever for their own good" syndrome.

Perhaps the most clear example of the "new" Foals is the single "My Number". This is pure and simple cystral clear brilliant pop music which you can dance to and which could top the charts across Europe with sustained airplay. It is a belter and will entrall festival goers splattered in Glastonbury mud. The same also applies to "Inhaler; this is a twisted bible black nasty funk song the sort that the great American band "Living Colour" used to roll out on production lines, come to think of it there is also a faint nod to Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer". Two minutes into the song the bands dominant force Yannis Philippakis screams out "I can get no space" and in comes the huge Zeppelin power chords to knock you off the kitchen stool. Its a snarling beast of a song and will undoubtedly raise the quantum of noise complaints to environmental health departments across local government. Things calm considerably for "Bad Habit" which is a fulsome song with an aching melody and a slippery grove brilliantly executed by the band. The three years that have been spent making this album has filled it with a huge dose of confidence and lyrically it is a different division to its predecessors. One of the other standout tracks is "Late night" which refindorces the latter point. This is a thrilling heavyweight rock song, a sort of distant cousin of the feel achieved on "Spanish Sahara" but underpinned by a muscular backdrop which could easily grace a TV on the Radio album. The passage of time will probably see it become recognised as one of their greatest songs. Much funkier is "Out of the Woods" with a great Philippakis vocal, while the joyous electronica of "Milk & Black Spiders" glides effortlessly towards the albums conclusion. The whole thing is rounded off by punchy rock of "Providence" and then the concluding "Moon" takes the album into a different realm ending it on a beautifully sombre note and showing that Foals have drawn some lessons from their Oxford forebears Radiohead.

"Holy Fire" probably does mark the transition from indie to a bigger more mainstream sound for Foals. But collectively it is an album for the band to be very proud of. It shows that the musical unit comprising Philippakis and fellow band members Jack Bevan, Walter Gervers, Edwin Congreave and Jimmy Smith are knitting together like plain and purl, in turn producing some of the finest British music on offer today. This is album is so good that its inevitable that the predictably irrelevant Barclaycard Mercury Prize is bound to pass it over. Don't make the same mistake.
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on 20 February 2013
Flood & Moulder's production shines through yet that's to the detriment of the band's own sound I'm afraid. Somewhere in the mix is the songwriting and sound that made Foals themselves but what totally dominates is Flood's production which is lovely yes, but somewhat soulless since we've heard it all before many times over. Further, whoever did the CD mastering has stonewalled it to the point that it is almost clipping. Of course Foals will sell millions of copies of this album and fill stadiums on the back of it. Job done. Commercial MOR rock at its most easy to consume ... and instantly forget.
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on 17 March 2013
Foals, hailing from Oxford, England, rose to prominence pretty much out of nowhere with their excellent 2008 debut album "Antitodes". Their second album, 2010's "Total Life Forever", was not nearly as good (the dreaded sophomore slump). Now comes the band's highly anticipated third album.

"Holy Fire" (11 tracks; 50 min.) starts off very strongly with several can't miss, lights-out tracks. There is the 4 min. instrumental opener, simply called "Prelude" but it doesn't feel like a prelude at all, as it immediately throws you seemingly deep into the album. It is followed by "Inhaler" (1st UK single), in which the band's arena-sized ambitions are clear as the song just sounds massive. That in turn is followed by "My Number" (2nd UK single), which is my favorite track on this album and has what I would call the 'classic' Foals sounds, reminiscent of "Antidotes". "My Number" is where Talking Heads-meets-Cut Copy, just outstanding. These first three tracks alone are worth buying the album for. But there is a lot more of course. With "Bad Habbits", the high energy continues, even if not as urgently as before. Things slow down considerably on the last song of Side A, "Late Night", the Foals equivalent of a ballad. Side B of this album rekindles the fire from the very beginning of the album, with "Out of the Woods", another highlight of the album, which is then followed by the high-charging "Milk and Black Spiders" and "Providence".

In all, this is quite the album! It's hard to find any gaping holes in it, and this is one of the best album of this young 2013 for me, and sure to end up on my "best of" albums of the year list at the end of 2013. I saw Foals live at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver in September, 2008, when they were touring in support of "Antidites", and where they simply blew me away. They are coming to Cincinnati next month in late April in support of "Holy Fire" and you can bet your last dollar I will be front and center for that. Meanwhile, "Holy Fire" is a most welcome return to form for Foals, and is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on 6 May 2013
This band just get better and better. if another album comes along this year that beats this then it'd have to be an absolute killer record! these tracks by Foals are a mix of michael jackson thriller-esque grooves, intense atmospheres, booming bass lines and unashamedly funky guitar patterns.
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on 20 March 2013
This is one of those reviews that mark down the album because of some technical error. Well I bought this cd for my husband and it turned out to be a dvd of Terry and The Twizzlers Live in France 1982. So be warned, it might not be what you ordered. Luckily it turned out The Twizzlers are much superior in force and melody then Foals. Thanks Amazon!
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on 19 March 2013
I was pleasantly surprised to hear those superb new singles from the Foals "My Number" and "Inhaler" and I've got to say, I was more than happy to hear a band progress like this and couldn't wait to get the album. They have gone from being a run of the mill generic Modern Indie band to experimenting with more influences and adding good atmospherics.

I love the intro which harks back to the Madchester sound and its following big tunes, Inhaler and My Number. Inhaler stands out more for me as a real leap forward in their sound and its an avenue i was expecting them to have explored more. After the fantastic first 3 tracks of the album. i have real trouble connecting with the rest of the tracks. I've tried really hard to get into them but i don't get much further than a few minutes into the other tracks before im hitting the skip button. A few of the songs later in the album really grate on me. I hope they can expand on this album and create more catchy numbers next time around.

I can see what they're trying to do sound-wise and its a good attempt at creating the dance/electro rock genre in some places, a style that has been done before over in USA during the mid 00's by bands such as The Rapture, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Radio 4 and LCD Soundsystem . Those guys did it so much better though, particularly !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Check out an album by those guys called "Myth Takes" or "Strange Weather, Isn't It?" to hear it done properly.
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