2013 Best Albums - Aubrey’s #1 - Foals - Holy Fire
If there is one album I fell absolutely in love with this year it was Foals’ Holy Fire. Over the past few years Foals have become one of my most beloved treasures. Their unique blend of math rock, dance and pop is intoxicating. Since I first listened to Total Life Forever and on, Foals were the drug. Sure I could go for a while without them, but I always end up going back. This feeling was amplified to immense magnitudes the four times I saw them live this year.
Foals, first and foremost, are incredible musicians. Keyboards are used subtly yet powerfully throughout Holy Fire, more than the previous two albums for sure. Edwin Congreave stoically provides these landscapes as he mans the keys beside the drummer. Jack Bevan has to be one of the most overlooked active drummers right now. This guy is an absolute beast back there, unrelenting and precise as hell. Lead guitarist Jimmy Smith plays guitar like Russell Crowe’s character solved math equations in a beautiful mind; calculated and elegantly. Walter Gerver provides all manners of rhythm (aggressive, funky, sexy) and also covers backing vocals which compliment front-man Yannis Philippakis’s most perfectly. Philppakis is not just a captivating singer, but an absolute presence as a front-man. Live, this guy is fearless. He jumps into the crowd whenever he likes, climbs monitors; I saw him climb into an area of box seats from the stage and then into another, he wanted to get into the balcony seating but alas he’s just not tall enough (I feel your pain Yannis). Or maybe you saw the moment I was able to grab at Lollapalooza this year when he stepped all over flower planters and let the crowd manhandle him back to the stage. And then there was the time he walked amongst the crowd and he played his guitar sixteen inches away from me. But in all seriousness, you haven’t fully experienced or listened to Foals if you have not seen them live.
I mean, seeing them live isn’t a requirement, but I would certainly recommend it. The thing about Foals is that they are impeccable at their craft. They play so tightly live that it’s not very far at all from what the songs sound like on record. THIS IS NOT A COMPLAINT. It would be a complaint if they were an absolute snooze to watch but they are obviously not.
That being said, Foals one-upped themselves with Holy Fire. Where Antidotes was nearly strictly mathy dance rock, Total Life Forever showed the slightest bit of vulnerability with a couple of softer songs (compared to the much more and Holy Fire shows the guys at their best, fully aware and able of all of their dimensions and selves, incorporating that they have been up until this point and all that they will become in the future. Their sound has evolved and matured so beautifully, in a way I feel like a proud big sister that has seen them grow up to be so incredible, so talented, such an absolute joy to watch.
Holy Fire begins ferociously, baring it’s ribs immediately with lead single, Inhaler. I didn’t want to post a single as the audio for this post, but I had to be real with myself, Inhaler is a killer jam worthy of lead single status. It’s powerful and cutting. Second single My Number was a much less aggressive offering, with a catchy guitar hook and infectious rhythm section. What I really wanted to post was Providence, hidden towards the back end of the album. (PuhLeeze watch/listen, you won’t regret it)
So unassuming it starts off, but as the echos become more nefarious, and the guitars buzz like a chainsaw it builds up to an incredible explosion of sound. Bevan never missing a single beat, stopping at the drop of a dime. Smith and Philippakis plucking feverishly at their guitars. It’s gorgeous calculated chaos.
Holy Fire, like the two albums before it, is my little audio anti-drugs. I only need the music to slip into a state of bliss,a genuinely happy state of mind. My entire face lights up, my body feeling energized. I did the math and I’ve roughly listened to this album the equivalent of once a week all year, but it’s actually more than that considering the album was released mid February. I love this album. It’s just so good. This is the one I sent to friends of varying tastes saying “you’ll find something you love on here.” I think I had about an 85% success rate. So many people (critics) overlooked this album, and it’s just too good to be passed up. Trust me.on this. -a