Is it wrong to write a review about a band you don’t really know anything about? Until just this week I only recognized the name “Foals” due to Spotify’s incessant recommendations (switched to Tidal recently, not to get away from Foals) as well as a few apparent now-forgotten listens throughout the FIFA series of games (frankly, I don’t think I remember a single song throughout the games), and I really had no interest in listening to them due to this leading me to associate them quite closely with the dearth of various similar styles of indie rock coming out of the UK. Indie rock is kind of a funny thing. Maybe it’s just me, but a band considered indie rock can make one of my favorite albums but something about the “genre” generally makes me just tire at the mention of it. Could be the aforementioned issue of just the huge amounts of it out there; a man can only take so many chirpy guitars before he wants to just end himself. Why do I even have to write an introduction? Eughh.
Expertly crafted hot takes on indie rock aside, I didn’t know what a Foals song or even album really was. I decided to just jump in dry - no lube - and see how it feels. I don’t think I see too many at least reviews like that. For a good reason? Well, here’s my case study, take it for whatever it’s worth. At least you’ll get something outta this.
I can’t say I wasn’t on the edge of my metaphorical seat throughout the album. While I found much of the it rather dragging and repetitive as appears to have been done partly by design, with the oft repeated-ad-nauseam musical passages, the song “In Degrees” comes to mind as a clear favorite in this vein, a cut that could very well fit snugly into one of the aforementioned FIFA series’ generally respected soundtracks (hell, maybe I do remember a few of their songs?). The snug bassline gives the song an irresistible, hypnotic disco-ish vibe like that of Tame Impala’s Currents’ best tracks.
The beginning of the album caught me off-guard. I was surprised listening to the beginning track, “Moonlight”, a quaint and pleasant, electronic-y track that somehow feels like home. It made me want to take a walk through the mild +2 degrees end-of-winter landscape outside to take in the beauty of my beloved home country. Wasn't something I was expecting as I had in anticipation of listening to this project decided to look at a few opinions of the band’s discography. There were some rather high praises, with the general opinion effectively being that their discography is one of the best in modern rock, though some figures were less positive. The album taking me in one fell swoop felt like this was going to be THE thing and place, though my contrarian nature had inclined me to be critical before listening.
The album, however, gets rockier after this. The second song, “Exits” is quite poor. The song’s groove is stilted, empty and hollow with its incessantly repetitive and slow bassline, and the general writing feels half-assed with the only real spice added to it being the occasional background vocals and instruments - additions which don’t peak my interest. It feels stagnant and without any real pay-off for the whole of its six minutes. I don’t find the follower “White Onions” any different - it’s in and out, provoking no real thought other than “where did my last three minutes go?”. Following the aforementioned favorite “In Degrees” is “Syrups”, another lukewarm piece of music, but the following track “On the Luna” is a rather punchy piece of dance rock with a lot of very fun moments, managing to re-light my interest with its vibrant passages, but the following tracks provide me with another relatively uninteresting passage. “Sunday” is one of the bottom section’s highlights with its trance-like bridge section and generally emotional writing, showing another case of a more interesting piece in the mediocre bunch, followed and preceded by two rather nondescript ones, and leaving the album through “I’m Done With the World (and It’s Done With Me)”. This ultimately leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
Was this a positive excursion into the wilds of music exploration? Not really. Was it a waste of time? Well, I would argue no. The album, while decidedly mediocre in its quality, shows a selection of interesting tracks (Moonlight, In Degrees, On the Luna, Sunday), and while the very bad (Exits, White Onions) and mediocre (basically everything not yet mentioned) outweigh them in a rather drastic way, it still managed to keep me engaged, if not entertained. I could see someone other than myself liking the dancy, psychedelic indie rock on the table here, and I think I will in fact be returning for Part Two.