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Foals - Holy Fire (Album Review)

Friday, 15 February 2013 Written by Jonny Rimmer
Foals - Holy Fire (Album Review)

Foals are one of those gratifying artists, that not only bettered their debut album with their follow-up, but blew it out of the park. This was a band that evolved from shouty and exuberant ('Antidotes') to brooding and textural ('Total Life Forever') within the space of two years. The jump in quality was so astonishing, one almost wondered whether they'd be taking tips from another certain Oxford band.

ImageBut no, Foals are certainly a unique animal – there's touches of Talking Heads, The Cure and yes, there's still a whiff of math rock, but 'Holy Fire' represents another natural step in the right direction as they begin to establish their own legacy. To label this band as merely “angular post-punk” feels almost like an insult when you take in the gargantuan walls of sound present here. 'Milk & Black Spiders' seems to be a hark back to 'Black Gold' on their last album, with its floating melodic guitar lines and huge bursting crescendo, whilst 'Providence' is more than a match for 'After Glow' with its riveting rhythmic structure and kinetic energy.

For fans searching for a return to the more youthful dance-punk sound that 'Antitodes' presented, perhaps they'll be disappointed that 'maturity' and 'progression' have prevailed, although 'My Number' is a more than worthy new single to bounce around to. With its jittery guitar melody and impeccably precise groove, it's practically the zenith of the poppier side to Foals' songwriting, and a strong contender for catchiest song they've ever produced.

There are other elements that help this stand out as an admirable sequel to 'Total Life Forever': 'Out of the Woods' continues the tropical themes of that record, there's a slow post-rock tinged closer in 'Moon' and 'Late Night' provides an interesting mid-way stop that is reminiscent of 'Spanish Sahara'. There's a few unexpected surprises that separate 'Holy Fire' somewhat though. 'Inhaler' doesn't necessarily fit the tone of the record with its grungey tone and some unusually melodramatic vocals from Phillippakis. Such developments are welcome though – it is rather the slower, more melancholic tracks like 'Stepson' that actually hinder momentum and hold the album back.

Regardless, 'Holy Fire' is a logical and impressive follow-up that establishes the band as a key player in the British mainstream. If stadiums are the intended destination, then Foals are at least making sure their quest is exciting and fresh, rather than dulling down their sound (see Biffy Clyro's latest releases...). Expect 2013 to be the year where Foals jump into that top tier.

'Holy Fire' was released on Monday 11th February. The band embark on a tour of major UK and Irish cities in March.

Foals UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu February 28th 2013 - Academy, Dublin
Sat March 2nd 2013 - Manchester Academy, Manchester
Mon March 4th 2013 - O2 Academy Liverpool, Liverpool
Tue March 5th 2013 - Barrowland, Glasgow
Wed March 6th 2013 - The Institute, Birmingham
Fri March 8th 2013 - Norwich Uea, Norwich
Sat March 9th 2013 - Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds
Mon March 11th 2013 - O2 Academy Bristol, Bristol
Tue March 12th 2013 - Rock City, Nottingham
Wed March 13th 2013 - Pyramids, Portsmouth
Thu March 28th 2013 - Royal Albert Hall, London

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