Foals – Holy Fire (album) (Transgressive Records / Warner Bros.)


The much-anticipated third album from indie-rock / indie-math royalty Foals, ‘Holy Fire’, is finally here.

In such a short time Foals have become a household name in indie-rock with their styling commonly emulated and incorporated in countless bands since. Those looking for a repeat of 2008’s genre defining debut ‘Antidotes‘ were initially taken aback by the leaps and bounds the Oxford quintet made on 2010’s brilliant and critically acclaimed sophomore album, ‘Total Life Forever‘.

Led by first single “Impaler” (read our review) and followed soon after by “My Number” (read our review), Foals surprised us all yet again. The former was much heavier than we’d ever heard the  band while the latter was more pop and direct than ever before.

So, what’s the new record like then? Firstly, gone is the four-on-the-floor indie styling of their debut. ‘Holy Fire’ is instead the next step in their continual advancement in both sound and experimentation. Like the brilliant ‘Total Life Forever’, this record sees the band exploring more texture and adding an emotional weight not felt before.

Make no mistake though, all of Foals’ signature sounds are here. If you’ve followed their career from the beginning, ‘Holy Fires’ feels like the only logical next step.

Right from the start album opener “Prelude” introduces us to a serious and rather moody sounding Foals. However next up the band go for a one-two-punch with the first and second singles, “Inhaler” and “My Number”, running back to back.

However, after the energy and pop immediacy of these two tracks, ‘Holy Fire’ proceeds to unravel in a moody and atmospheric manner starting with the achingly gorgeous “Bad Habit”. The hooks and the energy become much more subdued. That’s not to say that the instrumentation becomes simplified. No, track after track you’ll find enough math-y guitars, funky bass, and tasty drum rhythms to keep you satisfied for countless listens to come.

However to further demonstrate the band’s intention on this record, where usually the lyrics of vocalist/guitarist Yannis Philippakis are deliberately kept as mathy as the music itself, on ‘Holy Fire’ Phillippakis wears his heart on his sleeve and quite literally what you hear is what you get.

‘Holy Fires actually shares a lot in common with The Maccabees brilliant ‘Given To The Wild’ album from last year (incidentally, a Sound Advice top 3 album for 2012). This is particularly evident on tracks like the previously mentioned “Bad Habit”, as well as “Step Son” and current single “Everytime”.

The first two singles, along with the brilliant ‘Providence’ are the rare and purely energetic (and heavy) numbers, leaping out ever more when set alongside the emotional and moody tracks that surround them.

The gorgeous “Out In The Woods” has a similar appeal to “Spanish Sahara” (from ‘Total Life Forever’), and along with the moving “Milk and Black Spiders”, is an album highlight.

A rewarding and gorgeous album and one that continues to better and better with every spin and although we’re only weeks into the new year, ‘Holy Fire’ will be a strong contender for album of the year.

‘Holy Fire’ was released on 11 February 2013 (12 February 2013 in the US).

Watch the video for “My Number” below: