Total Life ForeverAlbum | Foals By Stewart Mason
Oxford quintet create a more inviting second album.
From its powerfully creepy front cover to the fractured dance-rock grooves within, Foals' debut album Antidotes was simultaneously off-putting and inviting. It seemed like the band could easily go into one of two directions, either moving into compellingly arty experimental climes like their Oxford, England compatriots Radiohead, or turning into a limey version of Interpol, simply becoming more constricted and stylized and boring over time. Total Life Forever does not answer that question conclusively, but it does offer several tantalizing hints as to the band's future. These songs largely abandon the tightly-wound, jittery guitar sound of the debut, yet somehow still sound remarkably keyed up; even the minimalist first single "Spanish Sahara," which slowly builds from a near-inaudible opening into an explosive, cyclical groove, sounds as if it would fall apart at the slightest touch. Similarly, singer-lyricist Yannis Philippakis has completely overhauled his vocal style, from the one-note gruffness of before to a more fluid, melodic instrument; he's still not the prettiest of singers, but the overall effect is more Ian McCulloch than Peter Murphy, and that's a big improvement. Rather than the cliched "difficult second album," Foals have done something more impressive: they've created an album that's far more immediately accessible than their debut without losing the edge that made them interesting in the first place.