Saturday Afternoon Artist: Foals

photo by Doron Gild

Foals started out playing at house parties in their home city Oxford in the UK.   Their first record, Antidote, dropped in 2008 and shot to the top of the UK charts, hitting #3 for best album. Mixing punk, math rock, dance rock, and techno, the sound is fascinating, but many people (including me) found the songs on the first record wanting.

But their 2010 release, Total Life Forever, changed all that. Suddenly lead singer Andrew Mears vocals have more maturity, beauty to them.  There is space in the mix, leaving more room for the melody to become orchestral.  The new record also has an element of suspense, like a movie soundtrack.  The best songs reminding me of The Cure’s best work, but have their own personal twist.  The mark of sincerity.

The band moved into a big townhouse in Oxford they called the House of Supreme Mathematics to write the songs on Total Life Forever. Guitarist Yannis Philippakis says the album was influenced by soundtracks from ocean movies like The Big Blue.

“The band emerged out of a set of rules at the beginning,” Philippakis told Sub Pop. “Aesthetic parameters—guitar played high and staccato; that whole schtick, y’know?”

“We’ve tried to regress [with Total Life Forever} into a more native state. To cut away at that conscious thing.... A song will just be about expression now. It’ll be more honest.”

Foals play at Neumo’s as part of the City Arts Festival on October 23.  Videos of them playing live look freakin’ amazing. See you there!

Michele Myers spins every Saturday on KEXP from 3-6pm. Every week she plays 3-in-a-row from a favorite artist and this week you’ll hear the work of M.I.A. She also produces KEXP Documentaries and hosts Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 6-9am on WNYE 91.5FM in New York City.

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