Foals: Holy Fire

Holy Fire
(Warner Bros. Records)

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In the three years since releasing Total Life Forever, Foals have become a more focused, honed act. The cover, featuring riders on horseback at the shore’s edge, can really be seen as a metaphor for the band’s sound: less muddled, emerging into a newfound clarity.

Foals are still making indie rock that you can dance to, but the sound is more immediate. Lead single “Inhaler” has a shamelessly funky beat, but beneath that fun exterior, there are dark, self-critical lyrics. When frontman Yannis Philippakis belts out, “I can’t get enough space” and rejects company, he vocalizes the feelings of a defeated generation. “Providence” has a similar feeling, with the frenetic music growing ever fiercer as Philippakis declares repeatedly, “I’m an animal just like you.”

“My Number,” by contrast, is a funky declaration of independence. Other songs continue to this confident drive away from the known. The cowbell-driven “Everytime” expresses a desire to run off with someone, while “Out of the Woods” juxtaposes delicate sounds with heavy bass as the lyrics assert, “I’ll never be afraid again, now I’m out of here for good.”

For me though, the real gem of this album is the final track, “Moon.” Through the quiet, churning music, the dark imagery of the lyrics comes through. Describing death and destruction, there is still something beautiful about growing old with someone else. Foals have found new maturity on Holy Fire, and each listen only makes this record better.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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