Foals are the latest (and possibly already surpassed) holders of the dubious title of “next big thing in British Rock Music” however in many ways they subvert the typical adages of this accolade. Unlike previous holders like Oasis, The Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys they are yet to really reach some form of mainstream success and are yet to clock a number one album. Their latest release “What Went Down” is seen by many as their biggest shot of reaching these heights.
Their brand of massive riffs with lyrics that are almost hollered at the listener have improved with each current album and with their fourth release “What Went Down” there is for the first time an almost interchangeable sound to the previous outing “Holy Fire.”
The first single also titled “What Went Down” is a highly disappointing way to start the album. The main body of the song grows tired almost immediately and the song offers little to no respite from the uninspiring lyrics and energetic yet drab rhythms. It is immediately followed on the album by the second single “Mountain at my Gates” which is a big improvement with a far more interesting guitar riff and a more complex theme that leaves a far more satisfying feeling. The songs progression is to be particularly lauded for complimenting the songs aesthetics and being highly danceable however in the end it is still rather forgettable.
The first two songs on this record seem to make Foals message incredibly clear - “We are here to be big and loud” with the sort of songs that seem specifically made for the festival headline sets that many expect Foals to be making very soon. This however is not the case.
As the album enters further on and perhaps some of the pressure of big singles and singalong choruses are removed from their heads the band is given room to breathe and explore some of the influences and melodies which have always been present and highly unappreciated in their music. In songs like “Birch Tree” and “Give it all” the band really shine with far more invention on show. In particular the drop in Give it All show a far more interesting way to introduce the huge sound Foals are adept at creating. The minutes long build up makes the drop feel far sweeter and packs a hearty punch.
However the highlight of the album is the tight “Night Swimmers.” For me it evokes a sense of fun that is little seen elsewhere on the album with its high adrenaline making for a sound reminiscent of Foals best work in Spanish Sahara.
Its not quite the step into super stardom many would have expected from Foals and with its forgettable singles it may struggle to be the success it was tipped for but there really is some excellent material in this album and Foals still show off their technical ability on a number of occasions.
It is certainly worth a stream for everyone and for fans of previous Foals records and other fans of tight well put together indie rock it may be worth a download.