Saturday, February 02, 2013

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Does the Oxford band's third album live up to expectations? Find out

Foals - Holy Fire: track by track review
Foals bring us one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year in the form of Holy Fire, which is released on 11 February. After teasing us with lead tracks 'Inhaler' and My Number', big things are expected from the band's third album - but does it live up to the hype?
After the hugely popular second album Total Life Forever, the Oxford five-piece have a lot to live up to after a two-year absence.
We've been listening to Holy Fire this week, and here is our track by track guide to one of the first big albums of 2013...
1. Prelude: Prelude is a perfect way into the album. A faint vocal towards the end of the track from lead singer, Yannis Phillipakis lets you know you are in for some classic Foals and sets the bar reasonably high for the rest of the album.
2. Inhaler: The lead track from the Holy Fire album and it's not hard to understand why. This was the song that re-introduced Foals into the limelight and got everyone talking them again. 'Inhaler' is all that you want from Foals. Ranging from downright funky to haunting, the track builds and builds until Yannis has nearly voice left in the screamed crescendo. A brilliant comeback.
3. My Number: First seen when Foals peformed on Jools Holland's BBC show, 'My Number' is another brilliantly catchy tune and a standout track from the album. The first two tracks really get the album off to an amazing start.
4. Bad Habit: 'Bad Habit' feels like one of the most heartfelt songs on the record. The yearning vocals from Yannis are something we love about Foals and the delicate musicianship supports his voice perfectly on this track.
5. Everytime: One of the more forgettable songs on the album, but that doesn't mean it's not worth listening to. 'Everytime' takes you back to the sound of their excellent Total Life Forever record which is no bad thing and eases you through the middle section of the album.
6. Late Night: One of the best tracks on the album. It has everything you would want from a Foals song. Yannis sings, 'stay with me' and it's impossible not to. 'Late Night' comes at the perfect time in the album and includes a rare guitar solo from Yannis. Dark, brooding and brilliant.
7. Out Of The Woods: Perfectly pleasant in every way, but not one to get too excited about. Actually one of the more fast-paced tracks on the album, but  it takes about two minutes to get going with the introduction of a bongo type drum halfway through an inspired injection of rhythm. Other members of the band harmonise brilliantly to keep the beat going as the track reaches it's climax.   
8. Milk & Black Spiders: Hitting something of a mid-album lull, both this and 'Out Of The Woods' are Foals-by-numbers, and the two merge into one another, unfortunately. However, it packs all the punch of classic foals, with big guitars and a relentless energy.
9. Providence: Starting off with big guitar riffs and some isolated vocals, you think you are in for a treat here and you'd be right. It's easy to be reminded of the more enthusiastic shouting and screaming debut album Antidotes when listening to 'Providence'. Building into a huge crescendo, yannis shouts, symbols crash and bass is slapped in a .
10. Stepson: So far, Holy Fire has had some real high points and feels like one of those albums that could get under your sking given enough listens. 'Stepson' continues the journey through the album with more of those almost wishful vocals from Yannis. Everything is slowed down as we near the end of the record. Distorted guitars and pianos add to an atmospheric penultimate track. 
11. Moon: Many fans would have hoped for more than 11 songs on an album that has had so much anticipation and hype behind it, but 'Moon' is the final song from Holy Fire as Foals have wisely gone for quality over quantity. Just when you are expecting the five-piece to go out with a bang and a huge Foals-esque finish, they deliver a slow-paced, curl up in bed kind of track. Delicate instrumentals lace the track and wrap around the vocals of Yannis before fading out as Yannis sings, 'It's the end.'  A lovely end to the album that completes the Foals journey.
Holy Fire is released Monday, 11 February 2013.

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