Tuesday, 12 February 2013

#33: Foals - Holy Fire

Finding success off the back of the ill-fated nu-rave scene of 2007/2008, Oxford's Foalsmanaged to avoid the break-ups that many other bands suffered and yesterday released album number three: Holy Fire. Gone are the progressive math-rock beats and off-kilter angular guitars that populated earlier releases and in their place are gentle, ambient synth patterns, jazz influenced guitars and silky smooth vocals. It's a far cry from the days of 'Cassius' and 'Hummer' and a direction that won't please everyone,

The first single taken from Holy Fire is 'Inhaler', a song which aims a little too high with what it wanted to achieve. A messy breakdown halfway through the song hampers the quality and seems somewhat out of place given the steady plod of the verses. There's an attempt at utilising shifts in dynamics here, which unfortunately doesn't work well and leaves the song feeling erratic.

Track four on the album 'Bad Habit' fortunately sees an increase in quality. As a gentle drum beat slowly gathers momentum and instruments until it breaks out in to a chorus reminiscent of New York's Black Kids.
Late Night is the sixth track on the album and features a disco tinged breakdown towards the end which is completely out of character for the band and really doesn't help their case any.

Holy Fire is an album which has lost all the youthful energy and urgency that made Foals earlier records so fresh and exciting. It's a natural progression for a band to feel that they need to move away from their initial sounds, it stops their sound becoming formulaic, even boring. But the idea is to keep it fresh and interesting; to bring an element of maturity to their sound, not retirement. Foals have made an album that is essentially all fluff with the occasional moment of quality. Rarely does Holy Fire rise above anything more than just an 'okay' album. The production quality is first-rate. But that doesn't help when everything can be described as beige at best. Unfortunately Foals have fallen victim to an overt case of 'all filler no killer' and would do well to revert back to their exuberant party tunes before they alienate fans further than Holy Fire might well do.


This article was originally written for Listen Up Manchester. Click here to read more reviews from LUM!