17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2013
It is third album in for Oxford band Foals and the bid for major league status begins here with an album which according to the band "kills their inner Woody Allen" (whatever that means!). "Holy Fire" is clearly aimed at smoothing the more spiky edges of the band and is easily their most coherent and cohesive album to date. With top producers Flood & Moulder at the helm the weight of their previous experience is brought to bear and the influence detectives will detect snatches of their work with Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails, and The Killers. Their presence has undoubtedly hardened the bands sound, made it bigger and pushed it into a place which takes the Foals vehicle screaming away from the label marked "indie". As a result some may find "Holy Fire" a bit too much like standard rock while others may hark back with fondness to the indie danceability of "Antidotes". Others may alternatively heave a quiet sigh of relief and point out that for every excellent song on previous albums there were also infuriating examples of the "far too clever for their own good" syndrome.
Perhaps the most clear example of the "new" Foals is the single "My Number". This is pure and simple cystral clear brilliant pop music which you can dance to and which could top the charts across Europe with sustained airplay. It is a belter and will entrall festival goers splattered in Glastonbury mud. The same also applies to "Inhaler; this is a twisted bible black nasty funk song the sort that the great American band "Living Colour" used to roll out on production lines, come to think of it there is also a faint nod to Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer". Two minutes into the song the bands dominant force Yannis Philippakis screams out "I can get no space" and in comes the huge Zeppelin power chords to knock you off the kitchen stool. Its a snarling beast of a song and will undoubtedly raise the quantum of noise complaints to environmental health departments across local government. Things calm considerably for "Bad Habit" which is a fulsome song with an aching melody and a slippery grove brilliantly executed by the band. The three years that have been spent making this album has filled it with a huge dose of confidence and lyrically it is a different division to its predecessors. One of the other standout tracks is "Late night" which refindorces the latter point. This is a thrilling heavyweight rock song, a sort of distant cousin of the feel achieved on "Spanish Sahara" but underpinned by a muscular backdrop which could easily grace a TV on the Radio album. The passage of time will probably see it become recognised as one of their greatest songs. Much funkier is "Out of the Woods" with a great Philippakis vocal, while the joyous electronica of "Milk & Black Spiders" glides effortlessly towards the albums conclusion. The whole thing is rounded off by punchy rock of "Providence" and then the concluding "Moon" takes the album into a different realm ending it on a beautifully sombre note and showing that Foals have drawn some lessons from their Oxford forebears Radiohead.
"Holy Fire" probably does mark the transition from indie to a bigger more mainstream sound for Foals. But collectively it is an album for the band to be very proud of. It shows that the musical unit comprising Philippakis and fellow band members Jack Bevan, Walter Gervers, Edwin Congreave and Jimmy Smith are knitting together like plain and purl, in turn producing some of the finest British music on offer today. This is album is so good that its inevitable that the predictably irrelevant Barclaycard Mercury Prize is bound to pass it over. Don't make the same
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Foals, hailing from Oxford, England, rose to prominence pretty much out of nowhere with their excellent 2008 debut album "Antitodes". Their second album, 2010's "Total Life Forever", was not nearly as good (the dreaded sophomore slump). Now comes the band's highly anticipated third album.
"Holy Fire" (11 tracks; 50 min.) starts off very strongly with several can't miss, lights-out tracks. There is the 4 min. instrumental opener, simply called "Prelude" but it doesn't feel like a prelude at all, as it immediately throws you seemingly deep into the album. It is followed by "Inhaler" (1st UK single), in which the band's arena-sized ambitions are clear as the song just sounds massive. That in turn is followed by "My Number" (2nd UK single), which is my favorite track on this album and has what I would call the 'classic' Foals sounds, reminiscent of "Antidotes". "My Number" is where Talking Heads-meets-Cut Copy, just outstanding. These first three tracks alone are worth buying the album for. But there is a lot more of course. With "Bad Habbits", the high energy continues, even if not as urgently as before. Things slow down considerably on the last song of Side A, "Late Night", the Foals equivalent of a ballad. Side B of this album rekindles the fire from the very beginning of the album, with "Out of the Woods", another highlight of the album, which is then followed by the high-charging "Milk and Black Spiders" and "Providence".
In all, this is quite the album! It's hard to find any gaping holes in it, and this is one of the best album of this young 2013 for me, and sure to end up on my "best of" albums of the year list at the end of 2013. I saw Foals live at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver in September, 2008, when they were touring in support of "Antidotes", and they simply blew me away. They are coming to Cincinnati soon in support of "Holy Fire" and you can bet your last dollar I will be front and center for that. "Holy Fire" is a most welcome return to form for Foals, and is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
UPDATE (May, 2013) I saw Foals at Bogart's here in Cincinnati, a small venue, and what a show that was! Playing many of the new tracks with of course some nuggest from the first 2 albums, Foals just BROUGHT it, and the place was jumping on many of their songs. Great, great set. Thank you, guys! Can't wait to see you in concert again!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2013
With the Foals you can count on getting a masterfully mixed, engaging, transcendental album dripping with musicality. They have proven this with their third release, which builds upon their first two albums "Antidotes" and "Total Life Forever." If you're into the Foals sound, then "Holy Fire" will be your king for the next good while...or maybe forever.
I've always been hit and miss on the "indie" thing. It seems to be a genre characterized with compressed and reverby vocals, synths that emanate, and everything from total experimental music to very beat driven guitar laden rock and roll. In the Foals case at their very best they are one of the most rhythmic and driving, and bring back what I love about 80's music the most. It's like I'm listening to what I wish Men at Work or The Cure was.
The Foals first couple albums were great, there's a few gems on them that will always be on my playlist like "Big Big Love" and "Spanish Sahara," which is so layered and just an incredible song. "Holy Fire" brings everything they've been doing well, and adds a little more funk, spice and Yannis' singing is the best I've heard. It's like they took everything that worked in their style and emphasized it. This is truly an incredible album and one that you won't regret purchasing...ofcourse unless you're not into this type of music...which would make it weird that you're reading this sentence right now.
After listening through the album one thing that is very noticeable is the use of syncopated guitar, drum, synth sections. The Foals have really tightened this aspect of their music, and it gives the songs a cohesion and musicality that just isn't present in most music today. It's most present on tracks like "Stepson," "My Number" and "Bad Habit," and it's more of a constant on this album then their previous work.
I've always loved the Foals more melodic slower paced songs. Each one on this album is haunting and beautiful. The slower stuff really showcases the mixing, layering and dynamic's that they must spend a ton of time perfecting. "Late Night," is a beautiful track which showcases this. It builds tempo throughout and is one of the best songs on the album. "Moon" also uses a great harmonic rhythm to accompany Yannis' voice.
Overall this is the kind of album that you can get lost in...and you won't want to come back from it. Beautiful stuff.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2013
Total Life Forever is one of my all time favorite albums and Holy Fire is an excellent follow up. In my opinion, Holy Fire is actually a better album overall because where Total Life Forever's second half is stacked with quite a few lackluster tracks, all the tracks on Holy Fire rate from solid to amazing.
This album is more poppy and melody-heavy than their previous albums, but they do a good job of injecting their trademark math-y playing style into each song to flesh them out. It gives all the tracks a layered and frenetic undercurrent that prevents the album from ever devolving into the average stale pop driven rock. This album is pure Foals, but broader and more mature.
Holy Fire doesn't reach the dizzying heights of excellence that Total Life Forever did with tracks like "Spanish Sahara" and "Blue Bloods", and those unmatched heights will keep TLF at the top as my favorite Foals album. However, Holy Fire is a *very* close second.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2013
Been listening to them for about 5 years and followed every single, album, and live recording they've released. This album shows the growth of the band as a whole, becoming fuller and stepping away from the arid feel of there previous album but replaces it with powerful choruses and beautiful instrumentals. Any avid Math Rock/Indie Rock listener would and should indulge in this album.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2013
Having only had this album for a few days, I can only give my initial reaction at this point. My first thoughts are that the album starts very strong...Inhaler, My Number (and my fave track) Bad Habit are great songs. They continue on from the sound Foals laid out on their last album, TLF. These first tracks are memorable, well crafted, and contain the same ingredients that made their best work so awesome in the past. This said...at least so far...the rest of the album kind've blends all together for me. Even after 5 or 6 listens, I can't really recall very much from the second half of the album. Don't get me wrong...i pretty much like everything I have heard, it just seems to go a bit bland or samey at points. Perhaps the reason why is that many of the later tracks seem to have a bit more of a conventional feel to them. In addition, the lyrics are a bit on the obvious side. For example, here is the chorus to Every time:
With every time I see you I want to sail away
With every time I see you I want to sail away
The lights won't bridge the gap through their holiday
With every time I see you I want to sail away, just sail away
So...to recap...first three tracks are great....starts the album out in a very strong fashion. But...as it progresses, so far anyway, it loses my interest a bit. Overall, half great/half OK...what do I Score this?
on November 2, 2014
This is my first Foals album purchase. The album is better than good but not great. Some songs stand alone and could easily be successful singles while other songs feel more like filler. I've listened through the album multiple times and have some favorite tracks. I really enjoy tracks 2-6 and then the album kind of drags on for me. It's better through a decent pair of headphones but what isn't?
Overall the album is well worth the purchase. I'll buy some more Foals albums based on what I heard in Holy Fire.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
I listened to this album before I bought it, had good expectations based on their previous albums, but it blew me away. I bought it because this is exactly the kind of hard work and talent you have to support. It's soothing and powerful, creating a wave-like motion of feelings and sounds that leave you feeling energized yet peaceful by the end. It has definitely become one of my favorite albums.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2013
Picked this up after the concert back in April. I had seen them before several years back at the Treasure Island Fest, and enjoyed them, but not enough to spring for the CD. However, that show was fantastic, and this CD is amazing. I've easily listened to it more than anything else in my collection in the past 4 months, and it has been in constant rotation. Really wonderful.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2013
As an ardent fan of the indie artists that have been coming out of Oxford, England since the late 80's/early 90's and into the present (from stalwarts like Ride, Talulah Gosh, Swervedriver, Dustball and Radiohead to current gems like Spring Offensive, Wild Swim and Rhosyn), I had read plenty about Foals before I actually took a listen to their first two albums. Antidotes (their debut) was up first - after playing it through, it became clear to me, straight away, why they were already considered to be legends in the making within Oxford. Their knack for infectious/spastic guitar riffs, bombastic melodies and frenetically charming drum sections more then made them an instant favourite with my ear drums. Then came Total Life Forever, a comparatively dialed down yet funky and soulful follow up (Spanish Sahara is worth the price admission all by itself) that more than lived up to the hype it produced following its release.
It was back in autumn of this year that I downloaded Holy Fire, as by then, I had a become a HUGE Foals fan. Upon first listen, I couldn't decide what to make of it. The general sound of this offering was quite unlike the first two (as seems to be a natural transition for any artist that wants to remain fresh and innovative) and it took a bit to for HF to really sink into my musical subconscious. It was around the 5th time I listened to it all the way through, that I began to realize how brilliant this album is. It's rare when you can go through a record, track by track, and you discover that it's seamless in terms of its quality. Standout tracks for me include Bad Habit, Out of the Woods, Providence and Stepson. With Holy Fire, Yannis Phillipakis and Co have not only raised the bar for any budding math/disco rock outfits waiting in the wings, they've provided further evidence that the UK is miles ahead of the US when it comes to music that's actually worth buying.