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Foals – Holy Fire

I have been unsure about Foals since I became aware of them with the release of their single “Cassius” back in 2008. I enjoyed that, but I didn’t really like the band. As new singles have come and gone I’ve flitted between loving them and actively hating them. Either way, they garnered a huge fan base over the years and have been doing incredibly well with math-rock and pop fans alike. It has now been well over two years since their last album, Total Life Forever, was released and so, unsurprisingly, there has been much interest and excitement over their latest offering, Holy Fire.

The first single from this album debuted back in November and is called “Inhaler”. I was not impressed with it back then and it hasn’t grown on me. The song seems to hark to influences the band have never shown any interest in before, ie at times sounding like Rage Against the Machine and generally going for a much heavier angle. Now, I love Rage Against the Machine and heavy music, but Foals just can’t pull it off. It sounds weak and a bit tempered, and generally falls short of the effect they were going for. Then again, who would want mosh pits at a Foals concert anyway? Far too much time is spent by their fans on carefully sculpted hair; they wouldn’t risk it.

So, this set me wondering about the album that would follow. Was this a sign of where the band were going now? Would Holy Fire attempt to make me throw myself around my room? Well, the answer is simply no. “Inhaler” is by far the heaviest thing on the entire album. Despite not liking the single, I was pretty disappointed by this. It’s not that I don’t like slower and more restrained music, it’s just that Foals have failed abysmally at it. Rather than being insightful, emotional or engaging, most of the album feels akin to walking aimlessly through a town for the first time and seeing nothing of interest. All you think about is that you’re a bit bored and wished there was at least one thing to do.

The first time I listened to the album, I had it on in the background. I literally caught nothing of it at all, it just floated about, but I was busy doing something else, so I thought it might have just been my problem. Upon listening to it a few more times, I realised it wasn’t me, it was it.

The opening track is called “Prelude”. I assume they done this so when people pointed out it was boring and rubbish, they could shrug it off. “It isn’t meant to be a full on song, it’s an artistic build into the feel of the album.” Or something along those lines anyway. Either way, it doesn’t work. At one point it nearly sounds like a sub-par Happy Mondays track, which, actually,  is probably my favourite part on the whole album. After that it just fiddles around and that’s it. It doesn’t even build up into anything. Any tension ekes out by the end of the track and then just goes into “Inhaler”. It’s worthless and they would have been much better just leaving it off completely.

What else is there to tell you about the album? Well, nothing really. You could listen to any random track for a half hour and get the same effect. None of the songs are bad as such, it’s just they’re instantly forgettable bar one. “Providence” is a great little number with some genuinely authentic blues vocals that sound like they could have been sampled off an old Ray Charles track. I am sure there will be plenty of people who’ll enjoy the album, but, considering the wait, this just isn’t good enough.

Release date: 11/02/13



About Joshua Danton Boyd