Foals are veterans of the British indie rock scene at this stage. While many of their contemporaries from the late 2000s (such The Maccabees and Wild Beasts) have split up, they’ve stuck around, getting even bigger with every album they release. With 2015’s What Went Down, they pretty much cemented themselves as festival headliner material, with huge tracks like ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and ‘A Knife In The Ocean’.
So, where next? Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (Part 1), the first of two albums the band will be releasing this year, marks a slight shift away from that arena rock sound. And as a result, it’s the most playful and creative album they’ve dropped since their debut. While Foals’ last two releases yielded some of the band’s biggest – and best – songs, both seemed to be missing a sense of colour. On these albums, the band generally stuck to a single sound throughout, leading to some tracks that sounded a little samey and repetitive.
Everything Not Saved Will Best Lost (Part 1) rectifies this. Every song here has its own identity and is bursting with personality. ‘White Onions’ sees Foals’ delve back into their math rock roots, recalling tracks like ‘Hummer’ and ‘Balloons’ with its propulsive drumbeat and looping guitar riff. Elsewhere, ‘In Degrees’ feels like a spiritual successor to the band’s big hit ‘My Number’, further exploring the dance-rock sound that song hinted at. It’s gorgeous, glitzy and difficult not to dance to. ‘Café D’Athens’, another standout, has drawn a lot of Radiohead comparisons. The song is unlike anything else the band released up to this stage, building off marimba loops and synth stabs, growing denser and more layered as it moves along.
‘Sunday’ is the type of song that Foals have more-or-less perfected at this stage – the big, airy closer. It draws the album together perfectly, drawing on the same apocalyptic themes as the rest of the tracks. It’s only let down by the fact that it isn’t the final track. The closing piano ballad ‘I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me)’ is far from bad, but it just feels slight and unnecessary. The same can be said for the opening track ‘Moonlight’, which, while pretty, feels too much like a typical opener. It’s a song that only really works in the context of the album.
Everything between these two tracks, however, is great. They’re gorgeous and playful, showing that Foals can still surprise this far into their career. If they continue to put out music like this, I don’t there’s any reason to worry about them falling to the wayside like some of their old contemporaries.
Best Tracks: ‘White Onions’, ‘In Degrees’, ‘Sunday’