Foals - Total Life Forever

A three-dimensional triumph
Foals - Total Life Forever
Launching a generation of math-rock copyists with debut album ‘Antidotes’, Foals are keen to prove that they are no trend-riding band of scenesters.

Recording their latest effort in Sweden, Foals have escaped the hectic world of British music. Finding themselves completely detached, the band seem to have found a renewed confidence to explore. Retaining the bristling energy that made their debut so addictive, ‘Total Life Forever’ seems to expand out in every direction.

Opening with ‘Blue Blood’, the group seem to turn commercial. The vocals are more melodic, with the songwriting more focused. Suddenly Foals break out into an African breakdown, with their itchy white-boy funk recalling Talking Heads. David Byrne is a useful reference point, with Foals absorbing a vast array of influences into an album which is by turns ambitious yet accessible, simplistic yet difficult to fully absorb.

‘Miami’ is as close to G-Funk as Foals may ever get, while ‘Spanish Sahara’ is more of a soundscape, continually evolving yet never settling.

Whereas ‘Antidotes’ could be accused of being superficial, ‘Total Life Forever’ to a large extent sacrifices immediacy for something with more depth. Which is not to say that Foals have lost their pop touch - ‘This Orient’ is a pulsating live anthem in the making. At its best what ‘Total Life Forever’ suggests is that Foals have the skills to traverse those scenester origins. ‘Fugue’ mixes classical piano with glitchy electronica, ‘Alabaster’ unites these flashes of electronica with Foals’ trademark guitar sound - treble turned up until the amp squeals.

Closing with ‘What Remains’, the band seem to unite these disparate influences into something whole, something distinct. At once tribal yet futuristic, the track wrings out the twin sides of Foals’ double helix - the lyrics voice internal trauma, sentiments that are drowned in rhythm.

‘Total Life Forever’ is a massive leap forward for the band. The music writhes with a renewed ambition, capable of moving from near ambient strains of electronica to propulsive African funk in a drum break. Shifting from their 2D debut album, ‘Total Life Forever’ is a three-dimensional triumph.

8/10

Words by Robin Murray

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