Growling rock to get down to
Foals are well aware that second place is first runner-up.
The ultra-moody, workaholic Oxford quintet don’t want fans to feel their best work was on Total Life Forever. Thier fourth album What Went Down is a cobra, it repeatedly rears up and strikes at expectations, at lackadaisical listeners, at any other bands trying to take their crown.
The cobra slithers its tongue out on the opening/ title track, a territorial pissing competition with a pack of hyenas (Arctic Monkeys, Temples, etc).
Then it convalesces in the scorching sun on songs like Give It All and Birch Tree, two skilfully done pieces of sound design that could pipe through the Tate Modern in London behind grotesque Chapman Brothers commissions.
Foals show off their blackbelt Cobra Kai skills again in Night Swimmers (no relation to the similarly titled REM song), all funky bass burps and hurtling train rock ’n’ roll that will work the dancefloor at any self-respecting discotheque.
Albatross seasons itself with a keys mantra like cracked pepper ground over the arrangements to bring out the zest. It’s a midtempo chugger and it sounds like Axel Bowman’s Fantastic Piano has found a mate. Fit as a fiddle.
Yannis Philippakis taps into his “inner madman” and it has come out in his words and songs about identity, creeping anxiety, pessimism and heartbreak.
On album closer A Knife In the Ocean, Philippakis sings of the ennui of being the top dogs in the indie world: “Be well spoken, watch your Ps and Qs / Now that we’re older, the future is colder, what is there to do?” The answer: make incredible albums that speak to the modern condition and give us a reason to leap out of bed.