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Foals – What Went Down | Album Review

Foals have returned with their triumphant fourth album, What Went Down.

Source: Album Artwork

Source: Album Artwork

“I wanted to tap into my inner madman and feel like I was channelling some sort of fevered creature”, Yannis Philippakis said of creating Foals‘ latest record What Went Down. This statement promised the rawness, honesty, and passion that has been integral to the most accomplished albums. It was not a risk for the frontman to propel the hype around his own band’s then-forthcoming release – the Oxford five-piece have more than proved themselves capable. Rather it was a taste of things to come. His ambitions have been realised in the most exquisite of artistic crafts.

The eponymous opening track is the best realisation of Yannis’ desire. He snarls through the lyrics, complementing the assaulting riffs. Its aggression is its most prominent feature, but there’s a vulnerability to its story which only adds to the exuding power. The welcomed assault continues into ‘Mountain at My Gates’, whose explosive outro is its showpiece. Excitement comes from the band’s execution of purposefully distorted and erratic sounds, demonstrated no where better than in ‘Snake Oil’ – arguably the standout track.

Although the attack posed by the music softens at times, the intensity of the stories told still remains throughout. ‘Birch Tree’ possesses a more noticeable math-rock edge, its complex rhythms mirroring the song’s grapple with finiteness. Give It All’ is the ‘Spanish Sahara’ of this effort, and shares the same chilling beautiful vibe, although here it gradually builds into something more dangerous.

Foals have been teasing perfection for four albums now. Their triumphant debut arrived in the form of Antidotes, Total Life Forever explored beautiful complexities, and Holy Fire is home to the unrivalled ‘Late Night’ and crowd pleaser ‘My Number’. But despite their many brilliant moments, previous efforts have lacked consistent brilliance. And this is where What Went Down moves away from its predecessors – no bad tracks, no fillers, just quality. Some may argue they’ve sacrificed variety to achieve near flawlessness, and perhaps there’s a little truth in that. And yet Foals’ latest record invites unparalleled excitement, and is the closest they’ve come to that elusive perfection by far.

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