Mercury Music Prize nominated Foals have announced details of their biggest Irish headliner yet at the Olympia Theatre on Monday 15th November. Tickets priced €23.50 inclusive of booking fee are on sale this Thursday at 9am.
The story of Foals’ second album could not be told without the victories won by the first. One of the strangest, most exotic creatures to have seen the upper realm of the UK album charts this young century (debuting at # 3 upon release), Antidotes was a special album. In the idiot clamour of retro guitars, its keen sense of dare and future marked the Oxford quintet out as a band keen to establish their own context: hurtling along on incessant, acrobatic fret-play and cymbals hissing with the bliss of exertion. It won them attention, and the chance to evolve in a space of their own.
Two years on from that impressive introduction, a choice has been made – rather than contort Antidotes’ lissom guitars into ever more elaborate patterns, Total Life Forever is the sound of a band settling into and surveying the decay of old protocols. The restless, woven guitar tattoos of their debut haunt its successor, remembered only in fragments. The pace is less breakneck. Foals have relaxed the formulas and diagrams used to build their early identity and stretch out, instead, in the sad, quiet chaos of rot.
The result is a sound as persuasive emotionally as Antidotes was physically. Whereas that album constantly reinforced its own presence by filling the air with yelping and polyrhythm, tracks on TLF such as disarming opener ‘Blue Blood’, ‘2 Trees’ and the astonishing ‘Black Gold’ are happier to leave gaps for the listener to explore in mind’s ear and eye. In his, Yannis hears Total Life Forever’s gradual vanishing of old writing and recording methods and sees a decomposing “whale carcass” – what’s left once the meat disappears? Does beached chest flesh disappear, or is the space between ribs growing larger? Foals strip their sound back and turn themselves inside out searching for that invisible human thing. At times, as on the sweetly nostalgic ‘This Orient’, it’s as if you can hear the past turning into air.
Total Life Forever feels like a honing in on something. A purification. It’s a better suit for Yannis, whose natural charisma and candour seep into those spaces vacated by guitars that previously vied with him for Foals’ reigns.