Friday, 25 April 2008

Foals – Antidotes

I don’t really know where I stand with this band. I saw them play live on Scarborough beach last summer and I really wasn’t impressed. Apart from the Gwen Stefani intro, which was fun it was all pretty generic sounding and didn’t really take off. They have been much hyped in the music press, which also puts me on my guard a little. Then the album was released and I decided to give them a go.

Foals have a robotic almost cold and mechanical sound, with Indie disco beats that have been so prominent of late. This makes the sound more accessible I feel. The guitars play off each other quite wonderfully in parts, and are used in a very percussive way. The album has added horns that weren’t present when I saw them live. This adds something for me, after first not being convinced. They bring some heart, warmth and much needed crescendo. The vocal performance to my ears is pretty terrible and can be annoying, this was less so live; it seemed to have more energy and power. Now onto the songs;

The French Open starts the proceedings with a nice slow groove to draw you in before the disco starts. Cassius was a single and has been herd a lot I would imagine, maybe too much for my ears as it gets into my head and stays there to the point of annoyance. The lyrical content is almost a side thought for me its mostly small repeated section just used as more rhythm to the tracks. I admire their determination to create such percussive and accessible music with a normal band set up of guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. There is however, some emotion in soon to be single Red Socks Pugie and it works pretty well being a stand out track for me. Olympic Airways sounds to me like a striped back Klaxons crossed with some Bloc Party, which isn’t a bad thing. I just get a feeling of I’ve herd it all before with Foals. Like Bloc Party without the choruses or Klaxons with African guitars and stripped down. Electric Bloom tells us to watch out for a warning shot and then carries on in the vain of many of the other tracks. Compared to some of the demos and early recording I’ve heard the tracks on Antidotes are slower and the production is more polished. Some people say this is a shame, but I think it makes it more listenable as an album in your home. They have been pretty open about making pop songs with strange influences and if people want the energy go see them live as they amp it up a bit. Balloons; is a catchy number for a single, one of the album highlights. It’s well executed, building layers or guitar playing off each other and booming percussion. It’s also less annoying than Cassius too, bonus. Heavy Water is a bit boring; it kind of just rolls along like an Indie disco ballad with no real emotion until it perks up a bit in the build up. The highlight of this song and indeed many on the album is the guitars. They intertwine and play off each other back and forth with energy and fun. Two Steps Twice is a highlight of Antidotes, it works well as a dance floor tune not unlike Balloons in style. This is what Foals do best fun dance floor tunes. Its nice of them to try and make an album with other moods to it, they don’t quite pull it off this time. Big Big Love (Fig. 2) has a nice atmosphere to it with grinding drums rumbling away. It’s one of the better album tracks. Like Swimming fades in and hand claps its way out in a haze of echo drenched clean guitars before cutting into digital noise that makes you think the album is broken. This cuts right into the final track Tron: which is unremarkable and brings the album to a close in a fairly lack lust form.

In conclusion Foals are a fun band and the album is enjoyable overall, yet I’m finding it hard to fall in love with them. It’s a perfect album to have on as you get ready to go out and have a drink to. It lacks substance and emotion in my eyes. Foals have achieved the feet of producing an album that is pretty popular and not your general Indie pop nonsense so I take my hats off to them for that. Maybe next time they will win me over.

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