Foals and what comes to mind? Artsy, difficult, oblique, precocious, intelligent, volatile, mathletic. The Oxford group’s albums to date – 2008’s ‘Antidotes’ and 2010’s ‘Total Life Forever’ – are easily among the most innovative and intriguing British rock records of the last half-decade. But Foals have also fostered a reputation of being a little spiky, of playing a bit hard to get. Yannis admits to having been “a control freak”. This is, remember, the band who left their biggest early single, ‘Hummer’, off their debut album. You feel that their ability to furrow brows has, for Foals, been something of a point of pride.
All of which made the arrival of ‘My Number’ at the end of 2012 so surprising. It’s easily the poppiest, least self-conscious track the band had ever laid down. “You don’t have my number, we don’t need each other now/You can’t steal my thunder cos you don’t have my lover’s touch”, sings Yannis. If this were early Foals, those lyrics would be some elaborate metaphor. But no: it’s literally about lead singer Yannis not getting texts from his ex because he’s changed his digits. This willingness to focus the lens at their hearts and embrace a bit of clarity blows throughout ‘Holy Fire’ like a refreshing breeze.NME
Foals’ third album is a record that bursts out of the speakers and demands to be loved. You will have already heard ‘Inhaler’, a shimmying slow-build with a neat Yannis falsetto that suddenly and unexpectedly blows ‘Holy Fire’ into the stratosphere, and crackles as the embers settle. If you like it when Foals show their teeth, ‘Providence’ is another track that’ll lodge itself in the Most Played page of your iTunes. Rhythmically pugilistic and heavy as all hell, it’s easily the loudest and most obscene Yannis and drummer Jack Bevan – the most overlooked weapon in Foals’ arsenal – have sounded since they were knocking down walls at Oxford house parties as members of The Edmund Fitzgerald.