Tuesday, April 27
Total Life Forever
i've managed to get hold of a promotional copy of Total Life Forever, the second record from oxford quintet FOALS. the wait for this record has for some been long and exciting. having heard alabaster, spanish sahara, total life forever and o-funk at various gigs in the previous 18 months it was obvious that foals were heading in a new direction. away from the math indie, which attracted the skins following, and towards the mellow. it was exciting as a fan to listen to gig reviews and see the crowds reaction. the live versions of the tracks listed are incredible and knowing that the band had taken their time and chosen specifically the studio and producer to suit themselves i knew that the studio versions would be even better.
1. Blue Blood
from what i can decipher this song is about finding your way home or to where you belong. a slow start with guitar riffs and the lyrics begin. yannis's voice has obviously transformed in the previous 2 years. he smoothly emits "you got blue blood on your hands, i think its my own...." then after a few more lines the bass and drums kick in and the beat of the song is presented. this is followed by a more complex riff and the song begins to turn to a chorus. the beat drops and before you know it, it starts going back and forth between these two brilliant verses.. then as the chorus finally begins it is interrupted quite superbly by another drop in the beat which is supported by the same complex riff. the song now begins to progress and all parts seem to synchronise together which leads up to the chorus again. then again the beat drops to that superb riff...it ends with the same lyrics that started the song. overall it is a fantastic start to the record and it simply stamps down what the new sound of foals is. this will certainly be a crowd favourite
miami begins with some delicate guitar sound alongside a brilliant and catchy drum beat. the guitar seems to evolve into a brass sounding instrument with a bongo drum sound.. then the lyrics start. the song is about betrayal and regret and about being saved. it combines clever lyrics, which set up a story of love then turns it around into a betrayal story, the trademark foals guitar sound and short hits of synth..the chorus finishes with a slow and quiet (In Miami) which is hard to pick up. at 3.42 it is quite a short track but it does not fail to produce all that is needed. a superb track that again highlights the change foals have made..
3. Total Life Forever
the title track tlf, which has been played live several times has changed slightly in tone. the synth from edwin now has a more pronouned tone which allows the lyrics to flow better i think. the chorus is by far the best part of the track. it tells a story of how a life that is full and non-stop is never good enough. and how the individual within oneself will always remain the core of a person. this is given away with the lyrics "singularity is here to stay". the studio version in my opinion misses out the intensity that was showed by the drop in beat in the live version, but it finishes off with a quite brilliant riff.
4. Black Gold
this track really stands out for me amongst the others. the almost cowbell sound at the start (played by edwin i believe) sets the tone of the beat which allows for the outrageous riff to ensue. the track is about the future and not knowing what it will be at all, this is again cleverly highlighted by the lyric "the future is not what it used to be". it also explains that if you try and change the future you lose friends basically. the synth really keeps this track going and it holds it all together, and at the end it is quite brilliant. i expect this to be brought out as a single. well i hope anyway.
5. Spanish Sahara
the slowest and longest track on the record and shows the most dramatic change from the likes of hummer/mathletics. it tells a story about leaving the past behind and going forward to a brighter future. the slow building of the song is fantastic. the guitars work brilliantly with the synth as it allows the lyrics to be heard and understood without being hidden by unneeded noise. the live version of this track has become a crowd favourite and quite rightly. it builds up to a frenzy of guitar and repeated lyrics of "i'm the fury in head/bed, i'm the ghost in the back of your head". it is almost arena music!
6. This Orient
the first single of the record and although the closest tone to the old record it does again show a change, most notably in the talent of yannis. he has somehow (maybe singing lessons!) transformed his voice from what was a shouting to a quite elegant tone. remarkable. the track is about the effect something can have on someone. the drums and synth work fantastically well together and using the human sequencer chart which sets up when each member should sing or portray a noise the song is a combination of quite odd sounds which mould together superbly..
the musical interluse/instrumental which splits the record into two distinct parts
the beginning of this song sounds incredibly similar to a early morning loop that was released about a year ago, or maybe that is just me. then the drum beat kicks in and the lyrics start. the track is about betrayal and losing someone close to you. it uses a delay on the lyrics well to create an echo which highlights the point. the tone in the track changes from quite direct at the start to flowing well in the chorus. the chorus almost extends and the synth quitely helps this along. then suddenly when you least expect it the beat drops into what can only be desrcibed as pure musical brilliance..what follows is a combination of odd sounds which would not belong there at all if it wasn't for the beat. it then returns back to the lyrics which bring you back to the ground. i hope they begin to play this live as it will make my year.
when hearing this for the first time in portsmouth in april 2009 i was blown away by the riffs and drum beat. this track couldn't be anywhere nearer that sound, but it could even be better somehow. the synth makes this track flow quite brilliantly. its about completing yourself as a person by gaining the knowledge from someone else. then it hints that all this power can be taken away so beware. again it would be intriging to hear this played live know to see whether they play it differently from before. the drum beats endlessly throughout and combines with the synth like i've never heard before.
10. 2 Trees
this track is almost like a melody. it just flows around your head endlessly. it is about helping other people, by giving blood, lighting up their life or by just breathing (being there for them) and about not giving up or letting go. the track is played at quite a high note throughout but it careers up and down brilliantly. the synth again plays a part in the end by producing a little interlude to the track.
11. What Remains
quite a fantastic track!! it could be classed as an anthem, it caressess your ears beautifully. the lyrics are quite odd but the direction of the music makes up for it. the breakdown after the chorus the first time is exceptional. it builds up again and it soon becomes ingrained in your head. "Bones, Bones....." the drum beat throughout this is delightful. i hope this gets some recognition this summer, it is like a summer tune.."i've been to the darkest place you know"
Overall i would give the record an 9.6/10 . it really is quite brilliant and a superb comeback from foals who have shown the everyone that they have matured into superb musicians who are capable of producing quite scintillating music. i cannot wait to see them live soon and will blog about it then,,
BUY THIS RECORD ON MAY 10TH.