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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Album Review: 'Total Life Forever' by Foals

Blue Blood
The album starts on a mellow note, with slow guitars and Yannis’s vocals softly echoing ‘You got blood on your hands, think it’s my own’. However, an abrupt crescendo two minutes in leaves us with an upbeat album opener that serves as the perfect hook for ‘Total Life Forever’.

Miami has a more laid back feel about it, reminiscent of 80’s pop with a distinctive bass line provided by Walter Gervers. This song has been named as the album’s ‘hip-hop track’, but to be honest I can’t really see why. Indie maybe, post-rock maybe, but hip-hop?

Total Life Forever
Being the title track I expected more from this song. The cumulative quality that Foals have developed through this album seems lost here, and instead of growing into something profound or stimulating this song seems to fall flat. On an album where almost every song offers an ending greater in depth and volume than the beginning, ‘Total Life Forever’ seems slightly out of place.

Black Gold
After a slight blip the album comes back on track with ‘Black Gold’. This song has philosophy riddling its lyrics; ‘the future is not what you’ve seen, its not where you’ve been to at all, the future is not what it used to be’. Apparently this refers to a vision of Raymond Kurzweil in which human beings evolve into ‘artificially intelligent digital beings’, so questions the nature and direction of human development. A personal favorite.

Spanish Sahara
Foals’ progression from their debut album ‘Antidotes’ is perhaps most evident in this track, which has been favorably compared to the melancholy melodies of bands such as The XX. Beginning with the whispers of Yannis and the murmur of a solitary guitar, a gradual crescendo builds, leading the band tenderly towards a satisfyingly moving and unforgettably compassionate conclusion. The lyrics were inspired by a memory from Yannis’ youth when he found a dog floating lifeless in the sea, an encounter which provides the story line for the song’ s equally moving video which has already featured on the blog.

This Orient
Completely opposite to the previous song in tempo and the feeling it produces, ‘This Orient’ subtly reminds me of bands such as Bloc Party, Cajun Dance Party and Look See Proof. I am reluctant to compare it to ‘Cassius’ from their debut album, as their progression must be acknowledged, but in this song lies one of the windows through which comparisons to ‘Antidotes’ can be made, due to the upbeat feel-good melody.

48 seconds of minimalist piano and guitar that serve as a break between two upbeat songs, for reflection perhaps.

After Glow
Once again, glimpses of young Foals’ can be heard in this song that speaks of lost love; ‘You are better than whatever came before, without you here my heart’s broken to the floor’. Yannis voice strains to wider dynamics here, and yet another crashing crescendo is effortlessly created.

A slower yet no less effective song that fades out to Yannis’ voice, softly stringing the melody and harmony together until reducing to silence.

2 Trees
This song reminds me of those by Shearwater, mainly due to the light vocals that seem to sit on top of a constant drum beat and smooth guitar riff, strategically placed and unimposing; ‘Don’t give up, don’t let go, just breathe slow’.

What Remains
Perhaps the darkest song on the album; a slow and painful accumulation of tension that represents ‘Total Life Forever’ as a whole. It is impossible to deny that this album is varied, and although I expected a more spectacular ending following songs such as ‘Spanish Sahara’ and ‘Black Gold’, Yannis’ attempt to create a ‘ballet with beats’ certainly shows that Foals have come back stronger, more diverse and even more unwilling to fit into a singular box or genre.

1 comment:

Eileen said...

Have you seen the video for Miami?
It confuses me greatly- particularly the bit where the drag queens and the bodybuilders have a fight.
This video also made me realise that oily, gargantuan men make me feel a bit ill.

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