Review | It’s impossible to say in advance how a new FOALS album will sound. They’re simply one of these bands. With their musical style having changed tremendously since their freshman piece Antidotes in 2008, their bandwidth now ranges from ambient Spanish Sahara to danceable My Number and rock piece What Went Down. Now they start on a new journey with the first part of their twin album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost.
Four years after What Went Down, the band has now spent a year on the new record. With bass player and co-founder Walter Gervers having left, the band had to adjust its writing approach to the new situation. Moreover, they decided to go without a producer, giving them much more freedom in creating the album. The result can easily be described as the soundtrack to human condition and current times we all live in.
Foals draw strong visual images
Like an underground spring, Moonlight opens the album with ambient synthesizers. After picking up more and more sounds, the song finally reaches the surface, now making way for Exits.
With the single, the band turns to the odd side of the musical spectrum. According to front man Yannis Philippakis, the song visually draws the picture of a little underground world that is slightly post-apocalyptic. Individuals are trapped inside of it, finding no way out of the surreal environment. It’s true that the single sets the tone for the record, serving as a centerpiece for the album. By creating a mix that takes elements from Holy Fire as well as from What Went Down, the band tries out different sounds like in a laid-back jam session.
With its distorted guitars, White Onions then feels like a remnant of What Went Down, although not in a good sense. What is pleasurable at first quickly gets tiring after the first repetitions. Thankfully, In Degrees comes next in line. Constituting it a highlight on the album, the bassline and danceable rhythm pull your legs on the dancefloor. On The Luna aligns perfectly by combining standard power chords with colorful synthesizers and overlaying instruments throughout the song.
Demonstrating their ability to groove, third single Sunday opens with a dream-pop and rather ambient soundscape before then piling up into a danceable house-groove with repeating vocals and calibrated guitars. It shows good songwriting which is always eager to surprise.
A dystopian scenery put into sounds
“And now the robots have made the rounds
Sand dunes filled up all our towns
Foxes howl and the creepers prowl around
The peeling wet bricks of London town”. – (Syrups)
Reaching for the paintbrush again, Syrups then draws the picture of a post-apocalyptic country. Lethargically, the bass line carries Philippakis’ voice through an isolated wasteland. Towards the end, one can imagine the individual running faster, trying to escape the world it lives in.
Ongoing from the middle, nothing extraordinary happens except for Sunday. Relying heavily on xylophones, Café d’Athens gives the album a nice pause, but nothing more except of that. Same is true for Surf, Pt. 1, which already found a use in the album’s promotion and appears rather irrelevant.
The running foxes from Syrups are now dead in the garden, lying there in the closing track I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me). A melancholy piano underlays slow-motion pictures of the dead animals, burning leaves and rainy autumn days. As Moon on Holy Fire, the album ends by sinking into the depths of depression. In this case, depression of facing a world in change.
Everything Not Saved was put on the album
It’s fun to hear a band still experimenting. Again, the band has created an album which is rich in variety. Danceable tracks alternate between ambient pieces, offering listeners a lot to choose from. But with the second half of the album being weaker than the first one, Foals’ Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost is everything yet nothing. Like a bouquet of different flowers, the record shows a colorful palette of musical pieces without offering landmarks to see the bigger picture. As the album title says, literally everything was put on the album to prevent it from getting lost. After all, the question of whether it benefits the album can be discussed. We will see how Part 2 will link the albums together.
Visit FOALS on
Artwork taken from JPC.