Crikey, Foals feel quite a long way away from that oh-so-cute ‘math-rock’ vibe on their debut. In a way, they’re like that geeky kid at school you only see occasionally, but before you know it they’ve been at the gym getting hench and the next thing you know they’re Paul Rudd playing a superhero.
Achem, anyway, that’s not really for here. What we mean is that as Foals have grown (not into horses, fnar fnar fnar), so too has their sound become muscular in proportion. The sheer weight being flexed on What Went Down‘s title track alone is quite something, though ultimately it still feels like the voice of that geeky kid still trying to come out. Take Mountain At My Gates for example, again a robust trunk of funk-lite hard rock. Within it, however, are attempts to be taken slightly seriously: “I see a darkness in my fate/ I’ll drive my car without the brakes.” Cool story, bro.
Truth be told, we just miss the old Foals. The one that ever so often creeps out on songs like Birch Tree (“my heart’s an old pole dancer/ troubled romancer”), the soaring Albatross, or their more adept throes of pathos on London Thunder, which almost turns out to be their Mad World moment. It’s nice that they can do the hard stuff pretty well – we can get that idea from all the ‘ooh, moody’ titles like Snake Oil, Lonely Hunter, etc – but in doing so we lose a bit of their original charm. Still, at least they’re not The 1975 so, ya know, we’ll take the small mercies where we can find them.
What Went Down by Foals can be ordered here.