Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2: Foals fall short of making something really interesting.
Before Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 was released earlier this year, it had been 4 years since we’d received a new Foals album. Foals have been on a fast track to critical acclaim, and mass appeal for years, with huge hits like ‘Mountain at My Gates’, and ‘My Number’. But as their appeal widens, does their sound get watered down?
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2 kicks off with ‘Red Desert’, an instrumental piece, which ends with a little Indian-sounding coda (a style which never returns). The next track ‘The Runner’ features a back-and-forth between singer Yannis and a Chris Martin sound-alike. I really enjoy these first 3 songs, it builds up nicely and I think they have a great groove to them, whilst not compromising on the catchy hooks which are some of the highlights of their best tracks.
But then the album transfers to a more aggressive tone with songs like ‘Black Bull’ and ‘Like Lightning’, the former of which starts of promisingly, however just doesn’t go anywhere. It’s meant to be this edgy, hard song, with Yannis shouting throughout, but it just fails to bring out any emotion whatsoever from me. He shrieks in the chorus: “uhhh ohhh we not playing around, I got a black bull in town”, probably my least favourite line on the entire project. It doesn’t get any better in ‘Like Lightning’. These two songs feel like they were written especially to be put on movie trailers, in the style of Royal Blood. There’s basically no variation of dynamics, no meaning, just a long stream of sound that hopefully some advertising company will cut up, and Foals can scoop up the royalties.
Foals proceeds to take a break with ‘Ikaria’, a short piano interlude, which unlike ‘Red Dessert’ doesn’t link musically in to anything. Yannis calls this song some ‘Breathing Room’ for the record, the title in reference to the Greek story of Icarus, which gets explored further in the next track ‘10,000 Feet’ which returns more to form of the first couple of tracks. I think this is lyrically the highlight of the album. Yannis creates some beautiful and vivid imagery, “Burning star about to come again, cool green water, come and mend”.
If you haven’t fallen asleep from listening ‘Into the Surf’, you get to the final song. A 10 minute epic called ‘Neptune’, which is far from epic. It’s long, drags and fails to say anything about anything. “I’m on my knees, I’m singing, please” says Yannis, as the cliché counter goes up. It ends with a cool synth sound, which would have been nice to hear during the song rather than surgically attached to the end.
Foals try to explore many different avenues with this album. They want to be mysterious atmospheric rockers, with interludes, 10 minute long songs, and vocals drenched in reverb. They also want to be edgy punks, with distorted riffs and angsty screaming, however they fail to pull off either of these styles even somewhat convincingly. They instead end up producing a lukewarm, passionless mix. As if a bunch of genres were placed into a blender and decimated to create a more palatable mush for the masses.
The guitars are forgetful, the vocals are stale, the drums perform the bare minimum throughout. The worst part is I know Foals can create really passionate, original music. I have adored their debut album Antidotes for years. It’s so exciting and features every member of the band really putting everything they got on the table. Even with more simplistic, minimalistic songs, they create a lot more intriguing sounds, and Yannis says twice as much with probably half of the vocabulary. You can witness moments of Foals’ greatness on this album, in the first 3 tracks, and in ’10,000 Feet’, but these moments are short lived, and I wouldn’t maintain much hope of them getting any more frequent.
It hits all the points of a critically acclaimed rock-band album, however fails to surpass these in any direction, instead choosing to stay right in the middle, which will be perfect for some people, but not for me.