Review Summary: Debut EP by Oxford quintet hints at the brilliance to follow from their debut album.
This review is written from the viewpoint that Antidotes
, which is used as comparison throughout, scored a 4.5.
UK act Foals surprised almost everybody in the musical community upon release of their stunning debut album Antidotes
. Not only did the album contain brilliantly catchy songs with a high degree of musicianship throughout, it also boasted a high amount of intelligence through the witty, cryptic and often allegorical lyrics; almost unheard of for most of the bit-part, fashionable bands today. Looking closer at Foals though, quite why it was so surprising is a surprise in itself. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis resembles fellow Greek front man Alex Kapranos in more ways than he would like. Whilst jokingly stating “I have nothing to do with Alex Kapranos. First of all he’s blond” in a recent interview, the truth is that he and his band have more in common with Scottish heavy-hitters Franz Ferdinand than any other act. The abundance of confidence and charisma that oozes from their live performances, the smart image and the intelligent song writing all contribute, and the distinct style shown on Antidotes
is as unique as the style on Franz Ferdinand
was in 2004. If Foals can be even half as commercially successful as the Scots, then job well done.
Heading the new wave of popular British indie, along with all the media coverage and inevitable hype is no easy task, but Foals are seemingly well capable. However, somehow miraculously lost in the maelstrom of interest around the band since Antidotes
was released in March 2008, is the original EP that the band put four months beforehand. Like Antidotes
, Hummer EP is intelligently thought out and musically rather special; all in all giving off the aura of an entirely natural prequel to Antidotes
itself, which is exactly what it happens to be. Starting with “Hummer” itself, what the EP lacks in length over its LP counterpart, it makes up for in intensity. The driving guitars, soaring vocals, noticeable bass and tidy drums help set the mood, all interacting to create the distinctive sound the group are known for. The bopping synth adds another layer to an already catchy track, and how this single didn’t make the album proper is anyone’s guess.
Amazingly, “Hummer” isn’t even the most immediately catchy song out of the three that didn’t make Antidotes
. “Astronauts and all” is a wonderfully fun and enchanting song, probably the catchiest song that Foals have done to date, encompassing all of the carefree creativity that one has come to expect. The polarising “Mathletics” is quirky and quite different to regular Foals material. With lyrics that would raise a smile from any mathematician, and a drearier atmosphere, this is one of the most unique songs the band has produced yet and has the potential to delight and disappoint in equal measure. Not much can be said for the two tracks that are to be found on Antidotes
itself. Both will have been heard by owners of the album, and are both as great on this. Being one of the better tracks off Antidotes
and an excellent live track, “Balloons (Live)” offers an insightful look at what can be expected from the band at a gig whereas “Big big love (Fig.1)” is as it is on the album.
There are in fact, only two real downsides to this EP. Firstly, the production of the EP is inferior to that of Antidotes
. As this was put out before Antidotes
, by a band that had a much smaller following, this is understandable and even to be expected. However what is not to be expected is for such a wonderful EP to close on such a poor track. “Hummer (Surkin Remix)” is a disappointing version of the original, failing to excite any interest at all. The remix really adds nothing to the song other than needlessly lengthening it. The beats are annoying, and the (awfully) synthed vocals suck all joy out of the track, to leave the listener with a disappointing anticlimax to an otherwise brilliant EP.
Don’t let this put you off as this EP is worth buying, even if just for the first three tracks, and is a brilliant starting point for someone wanting to hear Foals. Okay, so the tracks aren’t quite as refined as on [i]Antidotes[/i ]; although initially more enjoyable they have less replay value than the songs that made the album proper. Overall the resounding quality of this EP seeps through, and even with a few pitfalls manages to deliver more than expected
Overall 3.5 Great