Foals – Antidotes
Record Label: Sub Pop Records
Release Date: March 24, 2008
Sometimes I just feel compelled to write. Seems pretty narcissistic, right? “Maybe if I write this review about this band, someone out there will pick it up and connect,” I might think to myself. When, in reality, it’s just another opportunity to see my name in print, to see if I can actually put a sentence together. It’s not actually about the music anymore. Bands are just the crutch I lean (quite heavily) against. They are only the subject matter. The real star here is my award-winning insight into the world around us. At what number of written pieces did this jaded outlook become my life? When did the fun die? Who cares, because the joy is most definitely back and it’s back because of a band named Foals. It’s back because of a poptacular/reggae/post punk-influenced album named Antidotes. So now I’m going to write about it and you’re going to love it as much as I do. Such is the power of BLAKEABSOLUTEPUNK.NET FOALS!
My critical brethren have been fairly divided when it comes to Antidotes. And to be honest, this album has needed time to sit and find itself within me. By mixing the likes of Bloc Party (dance party pt. 1), Danananakroyd (mostly vocally), The Futureheads (organization is key) and This Town Needs Guns (dance party pt. 2), Foals inherently require extra-long attention spans. Also, the band’s international flavor scared me because I hate culture and everything attached to it. Opener “The French Open” grooves the album into gear with a bouncy bass line and burgeoning horns. The lightly technical riff introduces us to the tickling prowess of Yannis Philippakis and Jimmy Smith, as they are both indie wonders. Shouted vocals (that are tolerable, even for you old folks) surround the listener in English and French. This is a dance song, for sure, but only if you can keep it calm, cool and collected out there. “Cassius” features ominous horn blowing and a faster pace. Philippakis’ delivery changes again and his high pitch keeps the blood pumping throughout.
Even though this is wholly Foals’ effort, one name that keeps coming up is producer Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio fame). He was named NME’s top person of the future or some shit. Which doesn’t mean anything because I think NME is actually written by a sentient computer, but to the computer’s credit, Sitek does a masterful job with Antidotes. The horns sit in the perfect place behind the rock instruments and Philippakis’ voice stings with the same intensity of an electric guitar (especially on frantically drummed single “Balloons”).
Perhaps Antidotes’ complexity makes it so appealing. “Olympic Airways” hits melodic highs with hum-worthy guitars and veiled lyrical passages. Repetitions and elongations of the word “Disappear” will no doubt be lodged in your brain and Philippakis tones his voice down to eventually become engulfed by warbling, atmospheric guitars. Somehow a word like sparse would still do this song justice; cramming without being claustrophobic is Foals’ greatest strength. “Two Steps, Twice” also manages this formula, although it is much more punk oriented and considerably louder. You see the magic yet? Songs with similar goals still sound nothing alike. Antidotes is a house with countless hidden passages (see: the alarming electronics on closer “Tron” or the bass solo intertwined with dirty European dance club beats on “Electric Bloom”). Keep looking and you’ll keep finding more.
Recommended If You Like: Bloc Party, The Futureheads, transplanted against your will, Dananananakroyd, saying yes to everything
thank you so much for reviewing this album. i picked up this cd the day it came out and have passed it on to everyone i know who appreciates intricate, forward thinking music. anddd one hell of a dance beat. this is one of the best of 2008. throw this record on at a party and see the kids go bonkers.
happens every time :)