8. Foals – Total Life Forever (Warner)
Rather than become a weight around their necks, the big second album has proved a catalyst for Foals. Being much more of a grower than 2008′s striking Antidotes, this is a record that creeps up on you and infiltrates your consciousness.
What surprises even the first time listener is the amount of quiet music here, a relatively daring move when all around in modern society demands brash and bluster. Songs like Blue Blood and Spanish Sahara start from the outer limits of audibility, using this as a weapon when they build to their carefully calculated apexes.
Not for Yannis Phillipakis the exaggeration of other second-album acts (we’re looking at you, Klaxons), rather we have a more subtle and emotive approach that occasionally glances at The Cure‘s Robert Smith for inspiration. In the process he has shed some of the ‘know-it-all’ mood that occasionally got in the way on Antidotes for something more emotionally direct and easier to identify with.
Add a selection of elastic, subtly funky basslines, some memorable lyrics, and guitar tremolos that sound like they’ve been beamed in from the Iberian peninsula, and you have a band exploring their musical parameters, blossoming richly as they do so.
What we said: “In broadening their horizons they’ve not sacrificed quality, every note and sound is perfectly executed. Foals have made impressive strides forward.”