Increasingly, 2019 is looking like the year of the two-part album; we’ll get the second half of The 1975’s ‘Music for Cars’ at some point, as well as ‘Love + Fear’ in April from the newly-Diamondless Marina. This record, meanwhile is the first instalment of ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’, with the rest to follow before 2020, making Foals another outfit to either be particularly generous or particularly self-indulgent, depending on how you want to look at it. What the decision has done, on this evidence, is finally allow them to produce something more cohesive than we’ve become accustomed to; without the need to shoehorn every single idea onto on LP, we get a taut Foals record that runs less than forty minutes and that has one, consistently identifiable strand of sonic DNA running through it. On the latter front, it’s the first time they’ve done that since ‘Antidotes’; every album since has had a dramatic left turn just as you thought you’d gotten the measure of it (‘Spanish Sahara’ on ‘Total Life Forever’, ‘Providence’ towards the end of ‘Holy Fire’, the dubby deviation towards the end of ‘What Went Down’’s ‘Night Swimmers’).
Here, the approach feels pointed, concise, perhaps as a result of being one creative voice down since bassist Walter Gervers departed last year. The same lush electronic foundations that ‘What Went Down’ was built on remain in place, but they’re more melodic and less complex, leaving space for pacy riffs to tear over the top; the standout ‘White Onions’ might be the biggest case in point, although ‘Syrups’, a touch more languid but carrying palpable menace, gives it a run for its money.
Elsewhere, the band’s airier, poppier side – the one that gave us ‘Miami’ and ‘My Number’ – returns in force on the eighties-inflected ‘In Degrees’, as well as on the pleasingly eccentric ‘Cafe D’Athens’. Anybody hoping for some lyrical profundity from Yannis Philippakis should gear up for disappointment, although it’s never any more banal than recent single ‘On the Luna’, which might be his personal nadir. Will that matter when they’re taking such a sunny, endearing collection of tracks to headline slots at festivals, though? Probably not – he can save the introspection for Part 2, which he’s already promised will be heavier.
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