Song of the Day: Foals – This Orient


Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday, we offer songs from local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards is “This Orient” by Foals from the 2010 album Total Life Forever on Sub Pop.

Foals – This Orient (MP3)

Foals Fans rejoice: The new album is here! The follow up and second proper LP from the Oxford, England, outfit, Total Life Forever, keeps the post-rock-dance equations pulsing forward in the wake of their hugely successful debut, Antidotes. One might worry: given the wild success (debuted at #3 on the UK Billboard) of their first record, a sophomore slump might be imminent. With all the pieces in place (early success, uniquely crossover friendly sound), Foals successfully side-steps the pitfalls of convention creating a second album that’s even more captivating than the first. According to Foals leader, Yannis Philippakis (The Edmund Fitzgerald, Youthmovies), much of Total Life Forever’s freshness comes from a clear decision to buck creative avenues of the past: “The band emerged out of a set of rules at the beginning,” explains 23-year-old frontman and guitarist Yannis Philippakis. “Aesthetic parameters — guitar played high and staccato; that whole… schtick, y’know?”

On Total Life Forever, the listener hears the continued maturation of a band rooted in math and prog rock. Where Antidotes was furious and deliberate — in every turn of the guitar and every beat –- Total Life Forever takes a more laid back, stoney approach to its compositions. Instead of bombarding each moment of every track with some sort of sound, screech or polyrhythm, the Foals of 2010 seems intent on opening up its sound, leaving space for each song to develop organically without regard for the ones that preceded. While perhaps not as musically intricate as its predecessor, this new offering breathes deeper, exhaling songs that are less angular and more emotionally robust, and in turn more easily grasped by human hands.

“This Orient” is an energetic layering of TNT-era Tortoise post rock with triumphantly poppy vocals and a dancey beat. I love the infectious arc of the song. The thing starts off sounding a little goofy (in an endearing prog way), quickly climbing toward a fully realized, exuberant peak. What lies at the top of that mountain is really up to the listener to imagine. Likely the easiest song to fall in love with, this first single is one that could get stuck on repeat, giving you all the time in the world to concoct something amazing.

Foals currently list only U.K., European and Australian tour dates on their MySpace page, but around October, when the band is scheduled to play in Austin, there appears to be some open time. Perhaps another CMJ appearance? Or some West Coast dates? One can hope.

For now, enjoy the musclebound new video for “Miami,” the second single on the album:

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