Total Life Forever

Written by: PP on 19/07/2010 17:53:10

About two years ago Foals released their debut "Antidotes", an album I consider to be one of the very best in the realm of electro/indie pop, and one that snowballed the band from playing 200 capacity venues to selling out the 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy in London several days in a row in the space of just a few months. Two long years of anticipation later, the band is finally ready with their sophomore release "Total Life Forever", an album which pushes the band into a completely new direction, an unfortunate one if you ask this scribe.

If "Antidotes" featured playful math rock guitars, dubbed as 'insect guitars' because of the high speed and pitch they were performed in, "Total Life Forever" is characterized by a much darker and lighter sound simultaneously. The songs are dreamy and floaty, droning along at generic indie rock levels despite featuring a much stronger degree of experimentalism than in the past. The songwriting feels confused; the innovative insect guitars used to be met by fantastic one-line choruses that were repeated over and over again to hammer staying power into the listener ("Cassius" anyone?), whereas here they are often pushed to the background by questionable production decisions, and are barely ever combined with obviously memorable choruses. Sure, you might argue that with enough time and effort, you can dig up longevity and stuff like that, but for me, Foals was never about the super-experimental subtleties in the vein of Portugal. The Man rather than a quick fix of quirky electro rock both easy to absorb and enjoy.

That said, a couple of songs are excellent. "Total Life Forever", "Miami", and the playful lead single "This Orient" stick to mind very quickly. They all have one aspect in common: the guitars are finally at the front, driving the songs forward instead of assuming a backing role to the dreamy keyboards, mingling with infectious chorus melodies (still at dreamy levels, though) in the process. But it doesn't help much when the second half of the album is completely bland and forgettable. I honestly can't remember a single track from the second half of the disc, probably because I usually turn it off around track 9 because the band has lost me in their new-found love for dreamy experimentalism. This will no doubt be loved by the likes of Pitchfork and other pretentious magazines, but as a music fan, and a huge fan of "Antidotes", there's little on offer here to even pretend to feeling satisfied. The score is rescued by a few fantastic tracks, but there's just too much filler here to rate this any higher than


Download: This Orient, Total Life Forever
For the fans of: Bloc Party, The Maccabees, Two Door Cinema Club
Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.05.2010
Transgressive Records

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