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Album Review
Total Life Forever

Total Life Forever
by Foals

Warner Music

Review Date
Reviewed by
Nick Johnston

It’s clear from the opening moments of Total Life Forever, the brand new record from Foals, that this is certainly no rehash of 2008’s Antidotes. Whilst that record was mostly unnoticed in this country, it cemented them in the UK as indie darlings, the NME annoyingly (as usual) drawing comparisons to Battles (albeit a little less interesting) Bloc Party (albeit a little more interesting) and erm, ‘Radiohead’…surely for geographical reasons. So, naturally it’s a major relief to hear in opening track ‘Blue Blood’ what promises to be a radical departure from the ‘puzzle pop’ they must have been so tempted to duplicate. Emerging from a spacious gentle chime, the first line ‘you’ve got blue blood on your hands, I think that it’s mine’ is beautifully ushered in, and for the first time, we hear singer Yannis Philippakis do just that, sing. It’s in the vocals of Philippakis that we see the greatest development of the band here, gone is the snotty-nosed bark that dogged ‘Antidotes’, and in its place a far more stripped back and vulnerable voice is presented.

Unfortunately, this vulnerability occasionally borders an earnestness which, as demonstrated in pre release 'Spanish Sahara', crosses the fine line they tread, and heads into M.O.R territory, resulting in something that would fit nicely on Grey’s Anatomy. Not to sound like a snob, I mean snow patrol are easily one of the most popular bands in the world, only thing is, they know better than to claim PIL as an influence. To be fair, those moments are the exception rather than the rule, the ostentatious funk of 'Miami' and title track 'Total Life Forever' offer enough ridiculous fun and energy to dispel the haters, with ‘Black Gold’ and ‘This Orient’ perpetuating the energy of the first half of the record. The second half, however drags itself out tediously, as the trademark tinkling of the dueling guitars appear on and in everything, kind of like the sound of tinnitus, inescapable. Perhaps the problem lies with the track listing, which is a real shame, as the promising effort ‘2 Trees’ is lost in the mire of the meandering ‘Alabastor’ and ‘What Remains’. Such detractions will most likely be forgiven or overlooked by fans, in light of the bands’ progression evident in ‘Total Life Forever’. However, as a friend of the band, and having seen them play over 30 shows, I know what they are capable of and this once again feels like it just falls short of what they can do. Once again listening to Foals feels like listening to a slightly more interesting Bloc Party. something I was hoping would change with this record.

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