Album Review: Foals – Holy Fire

By on Wednesday, 27th February 2013 at 12:00 pm

Foals Holy Fire coverWhen you’re profiling the true core of British indie at the moment, the group who stand at the pinnacle of such a glorious age for alternative music in this country are Foals. No matter what way you look at it, Yannis Philippakis’ group of meat-pulverizing, would-be hair models have produced two of the seminal indie records of the past 5 years.

‘Antidotes’ strode onto the scene showcasing a band that had already obviously spent considerable time and effort hammering down their unique sound. Singles like ‘Mathletics’, ‘Cassius’ and ‘Balloons’ were so complex in their structure, yet were dripping with the kind of hook laden brilliance we have now after three records come to expect from Foals. Then with ‘Total Life Forever’, the band took their sound to new levels, with hints of Radiohead creeping into the sound on lead track, the hauntingly beautiful ‘Spanish Sahara’.

Now the band’s third record isn’t one that sees the five-piece branching out into pastures anew. Instead, ‘Holy Fire’ is exactly what I wanted from Foals; a progression of their already formidable math rock prowess, alongside some massive riffs and spellbindingly beautiful song writing. A couple of months back, Foals released what was to be the first single for their new record, ‘Inhaler’. The raw mix of grungy guitars and the Rage Against the Machine-esque roars from Yannis creates a proper belter of a pop tune. The squealing roars of guitars seem to be an undertone of this new record, with an almost prog-ish direction on songs like ‘Late Night’ (CCTV-styled footage of the band playing the song below) are a sign of a band maturing beyond their humbled math rock beginnings.


Once the underspoken, discreet indie boys swinging a club at meat on string, now they’ve come full circle and are crossing genres galore. While ‘Antidotes’ and some of their earlier work may have been criticised as being a bit one-dimensional or middle of the road indie rock, the same cannot be said of Philippakis, Jack Bevan, Jimmy Smith, Walter Gervers and Edwin Congreave now. While ‘Inhaler’ gives a rockier intro to the album, ‘My Number’ is a testament to the bands ability to write groovy dance tunes with a different kind of depth. The kind of track that would go down a storm on BBC 6 Music, at Propaganda or on the Radio 1 A-list, Philippakis’ cries about his independence are strewn throughout the song.

Throughout the record though, it’s obvious that the band have found a sound that works for them on all levels, whether it’s the more understated ‘Bad Habit’, or livewire tracks like ‘Providence’ that throws in a few surprise trumpet sections. Overall, it’s difficult to be critical of this record, for the fact that Foals have in just under an hour confidently moved out of their comfort zone, while keeping hold of their mass appeal and hook driven math rock. It’s a struggle to see how this band can’t just continue to grow and go places. Headline slots await, it seems.


‘Holy Fire’, the third album from Oxford band Foals, is out now on Transgressive Records.

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[…] this year and continually rising star, Foals‘ nomination for ‘Holy Fire’ (review here) is not such a shock. But they were nominated for and lost in 2010 for ‘Total Life […]

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