Review Summary: Moments of greatness juxtaposed by its inert nature of keeping restraint, Life is Yours is sadly a slight misnomer in an otherwise consistent track record.
We had to reach this point eventually. Foals always had a knack for the unpredictable, transcending from their brittle math rock tendencies to a riff-laden rock powerhouse boasting such songs as Providence, What Went Down, Inhaler and Black Bull to name but a few. Which is what makes their latest outing all the more disappointing - if you want to hear Foals at their most sanitised, well, here it is.
A few eyebrows were certainly raised when lead single Wake Me Up was dropped earlier in the year, fusing their usual flavour of indie-pop with elements of groove and funk rock. While catchy and somewhat anthemic, it meanders through with no real resolution which makes it sound awfully redundant by the end. It’s a shame as the stomping strut of a verse really gets the blood pumping.
A huge factor that hurts Life is Yours however lies in its production, most notably with the album’s bass work that is usually performed by Walter Gervers who amicably left the band in 2021. His absence shows quite noticeably. The compositions in themselves are hugely uninspired, especially compared to older songs like After Glow and Black Gold that sounded integral to the band’s chemistry. This is sorely missing here - it tends to merely follow the kick pedal’s beat, a question and answer here and there and merely following the melody of the song itself. It also sounds increasingly jarring at times with songs like 2001 (summer sky) and Looking High being either isolated from the guitar work itself or utilising a heavy flange/wah effect that give an otherwise clean sound an unnecessary dirge feel.
There are highlights however. 2am is an instantly likeable track that plays to the strengths of the band - it’s punchy, has interesting guitar interplay and builds up to a frothing bubbling of a climax where all the instruments bounce off each other superbly. Flutter is also an unconventional track that harkens back to Foals’ earlier works, boasting reverb drenched vocals, an unexpected riff and a plinky-plonky soundscape that sounds like something that could be on Holy Fire. Crest of the Wave also features a thumping beat crossed with a dream pop haze, the few times where the production sounds somewhat ambitious.
But after all is said and done, there really isn’t anything else to go back to. Songs cut off way too short when they’re about to get going, other songs overstay their welcome and it has to be noted that the drumming is completely devoid of what made Foals such a powerhouse all those years ago. While it has good intentions and the band should be lauded for taking a risk, it ironically ends up sounding like they ended up taking zero risks in the final product. It’s a quick, breezy listen, primed and ready for the summer time and yet it just floats by in a sea of white noise.
Like what the album title suggests, it’s an affable statement that shines lights on a world of intense uncertainty - music is normally a form of escapism for many and Foals have tried to make a record that refuses to bow to any agenda. It’s nice. But by doing so sheds so much of what makes them special. And by being so indifferent, Life is Yours commits a huge crime in popular music - like a wilting flower in the scorching sun, it’s nothing but a lifeless husk of its former self. Let’s hope the next record has better execution. Sigh.