May 25, 2010 - Sub Pop
In the two years since this Oxford, England, outfit recorded their razor-sharp debut Antidotes, it would appear that they've collectively seen a ghost. Or they exhausted themselves in the flurry of touring and hype that followed the 2008 release of LP1. Either way, something has to account for the haunted, desiccated sound of their latest full-length, Total Life Forever. Gone for the most part are the skittering disco-punk rhythms and fully engorged urgency that drove their material. Instead, you have a slower, more methodical approach that lets these pop gems blossom out in thin ribbons.
Whatever the inspiration--spectral or otherwise--it has done wonders for the band. By pulling the tempos in and adding a patina of sonic gloss to ethereal numbers like "2 Trees" and the positively gorgeous "Spanish Sahara," the songs are able to sink in deeper and are harder to shake off. They are also showing an increasing reliance on electronics, letting washes of keyboards and fluttering programmed noise color the dreamscape that is "Alabaster" and the more insistent pulse of "Black Gold" like creeping shadows.
Even when Foals stretch back into the comfortable strides of danceable beats and scratchy guitars, it is tinged with something sour and slightly acidic. This isn't the same band we once knew--thank heaven for that.