Not only is Holy Fire utterly sublime, it’s a record that’s been six years in the making. A record where Foals have focussed their many triumphs and missteps into one cohesive statement. Trace ‘Inhaler’s surge of grungey scuzz back to its roots and you’ll find Yannis Philippakis screaming “cosine waves" as ‘Mathletics’ reaches its chaotic climax. Add a righteous wave of life-affirming positivity to ‘Miami’s searing funk and ‘My Number’ fizzles into life. Even ‘Moon’ is ‘Alabaster’ reincarnated as a more melancholic beast.
Foals have not reinvented themselves here. What they have done is refine their essence so that it can carry over 11 tracks. Holy Fire is deliberately paced in rhythmic waves which ramp up to a dizzying charge after the teasing ‘Prelude’. Cascading from the crunching thrust of ‘Everytime’ to the artful swirl of ‘Out Of The Woods’, the effect is to be caught in a perpetual state of breathless ecstasy. When this rush abruptly subsides with ‘Stepson’, its blissful comedown is all the more stirring. Especially since Philippakis’s lyrics have come a long way from the scattershot nonsense of ‘Balloons’ and The French Open’. Syllables still frantically drip from his tongue, thankfully they now all fall into place. Not least in the refreshingly intimate ‘Bad Habit’, “I made my mistake and I feel something’s changed. Wash the stains away and I feel quite okay.”
If Holy Fire is a redemption story, then its conclusion is all the more tantalising. Having spent three albums honing their current guise, the only way forward for Foals is to rip up what’s gone before and start again. For now, their long-standing swagger is finally justified. Time to bask in its reflected glory.
With massive sounds right from the off with heavy basslines over mature and mellow guitar riffs on the ‘Prelude’ opener before leading tracks, the heavier sounding ’Inhaler’ and typical old party like Foals track ’My Number’, burst the album open, gets in your face and sets the perfect tone for the rest of the album.
‘Bad Habit’ has a similar feel to ‘My Number’ with a summer feel to the track, a song which along with ‘My Number’ is bound to be a massive track at the summer festivals.
‘Late Night’ is a slow burner which brings the best out of lead singer Yannis Philippakis lyrically, a song seemingly wrote about a love in his life, it reflects the more heavier and personal side of Foals that is becoming more of a regular sound for the band.
‘Out of the Woods’ attracts you to its heavy bassline but a song that would be beaten in a competition with the skip button, apart from this mediocre track, the rest of ‘Holy Fire’ is excellent.
The song of the album is no doubt album ending ‘Moon’, the ‘Spanish Sahara’ feeling song completely sums up ‘Holy Fire’, quite dark, heavy, lyrically excellent and great sounding songs. Foals have certainly grown up and matured into one of the best UK bands lyrically and have wrote an album that can only push them further towards main stage sets across festivals and filling arena’s around the world.
Many predicted 2013 would be the year of ‘Guitar Music’, with Foals around writing albums like ‘Holy Fire’, guitar music is most definitely in safe hands once again.
Foals in Deutschland:
18.03.13 Hamburg, Markthalle
19.03.13 Berlin, Astra
20.03.13 Köln, Live Music Hall