Words by Russell Carstens
What Went Down, the new albums by Foals, gets right to the bloody point from the get-go. The title track starts things off, and first lyrics heard are, “I buried my heart in a hole in the ground,” while throbbing, bass-heavy percussion keeps the beat. Within seconds, the Oxford outfit has your full attention.
Throughout, the album is full of well-written melodies and lyrics (e.g., “You’ve got a pile of broken wishbones under your bed,” from “Albatross”). “Mountain At My Gates” features a semi-funky guitar rhythm, making creative use of mixing programmed hi hats with live drums. The vocals are delivered with passion, as Yannis Philippakis sings, “I’ll drive my car without the brakes.” It sounds like The Killers with a harder, darker edge.
“Birch Tree” is an atmospheric dance-type song. This song bleeds good vibes, and would be well-received at outdoor summer festivals (maybe next year?). The band takes a breather on “Give It All,” which is dominated by drums and soft synthesizer sounds. The intro drums of “Snake Oil” channel Joy Division’s Closer, leading into an excellent stoner rock minor-key riff that provides a mean hook.
Fittingly, on “Night Swimmers,” shimmering guitars and slap-back vocals give the aural effect of ripples in a pond that is reflecting moonlight. The song has a math rock feel, and halfway through, distortion gets the rave-up going into a straight-up psychedelic outro that hits the spot.
Foals allows themselves to be influenced by all genres – their music contains traces of alternative rock, electronic music and other styles. What Went Down is not predictable or boring — and that’s what makes for interesting songwriting.
‘What Went Down’
© August 28th, 2015
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