Review Summary: As both a standalone piece and as a counterpart to its predecessor, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 is a towering achievement.
I won’t overstate how disappointed I was in Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost
’s premier installment, because on a certain level, I get
it. The band aimed for something looser and more experimental, and they ~sort of~ succeeded. The electronic undercurrents and power-pop vibes were a bit hit-or-miss, but when they caught fire on the second half of ‘Sunday’ or launched into that mesmerizing, urgent orchestral whirlwind on ‘Syrups’, it was well worth it. Regardless, the inconsistency had me a little nervous for Part 2
, because typically in these kinds of double albums, bands put their strongest foot forward first. Thankfully, Foals appears to have back-loaded almost all of their best moments, saving them for a heavier, moodier second chapter that is far better and way more consistent than its predecessor.
is full of dirty rock grooves and swelling vocal hooks, but it doesn’t mark a regression in the band’s creative synapses, which are still firing on all cylinders. ‘The Runner’ is precisely the kind of moment that Part 1
was sorely lacking: a riff-heavy song with an insanely memorable vocal component. Its placement as the album’s opener (discounting the ‘Red Desert’ interlude) is ideal, and it immediately sets the tone for Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost
’s second composition to be the darker, denser sequel. Those suspicions are all but confirmed by the time ‘Black Bull’ explodes through your speakers, which thanks to Yannis Philippakis’ hoarse shouts and screams, is by far the loudest track on either album. The pummeling drums and disorienting guitar work only adds to the mayhem, and it’s enough to make you wonder why Foals isn’t always this badass. It feels like the spiritual representation of that eerie, dawn-lit cross on the album cover. ‘Like Lightning’ is another purebred rock song that helps Part 2
to take shape, and even if it’s a bit more straightforward than the two aforementioned highlights, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable rocker that combines a stomping rhythm with an impossible-to-shake melody.
This album is not a black-and-white departure from Part 1
, although the moments that share the most sonic qualities with that installment also sound more evolved and fully-curated. One such example is ‘Wash Off’, which features a bouncy rhythm and prominent ooh
’s, but slowly crystallizes into a vocal crescendo where Philippakis toes the line between singing and shouting in what might best be described as a balancing act between emotion and restraint. Its upbeat tone and almost pop-rock
vibe makes it one of – if not the
– most amusing track on the record, if for no other reason because it takes every bit of mental gymnastics not to cave into the slowly building momentum and erupt into glorious shouts of “go wash it off!” ’10,000 Feet’ is another Part 1
-reminiscent highlight that feels like a more matured version of those stylings, balancing gorgeously shimmering guitars with synths, ghostly vocal hums, and pastoral samples that fade the song’s final half-minute away. It’s a gem in Part 2
’s back half, and it possesses one of the most breathtaking atmospheres across all of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost
Foals saves their absolute best for last with ‘Neptune’ - a ten minute modern rock epic. The guitars and background synths swirl with their own gravitational pull, while Philippakis draws us in with haunting chants of “come take me away.” A little bit past the halfway point, the vocals cut out and the song veers off into a nearly four minute long detour of electric riffs that sound like far-off transmissions and mysterious galactic sounds that give one the feeling of being suspended in space. The song eventually circles back to its refrain, but it is delivered with more passion and energy than before, drawing the curtain on what may be Foals’ best song ever with a dual-pronged sense of urgency and mystery. If there’s one moment of either installment of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost
that you absolutely must hear, it’s ‘Neptune.’
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost
’s second chapter packs a punch that Part 1
never even approached, and all without sacrificing any of its imagination or quirkiness. It’s the heavier, more rock-oriented version of its sibling, eliminating its worst traits while honing and perfecting the best that it had to offer. Part 2
makes the double album worth revisiting as a whole experience, especially for those who found the direction of Part 1
to be disappointing. This is still clearly the superior half – and by a wide margin – but there’s something to be said for the additional context that this heavy hitter of a postlude provides its listeners. For one thing, it helps to undo the notion that bands always front-load split releases such as this. More importantly, of course, it salvages and rounds out Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost
into one of the most intriguing double albums to come out in recent years, with Part 2
serving as one of the most thrillingly experimental and energetic “straight-up rock” albums of the decade. This is a special piece of music, and one that is all the more likely to impress because of how unexpectedly it departs from the formula laid out in Part 1
. As both a standalone piece and as a counterpart to its predecessor, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2
is a towering achievement.