Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2008: Number 28

Foals come with too much baggage for most. So keen are the cognescenti to point out their distance from math-rock (all 4/4 beats, see) and their proximity to studied cool (haircuts, generally) that nobody stops to acknowledge what the hell this is that the Grimshawcore kids are actually listening to and how come it's so actually different from everything else in their hype sightlines. While you wonder what the original Dave Sitek mix sounded like - reverb friendly and filtered, at a guess - we can at least acknowledge that Antidotes is an album that takes the booth at the student disco and plays some modern classical instead.

If there's a basic format of their own conjured up here - high up the neck hi-life guitars, DFA punk-funk rhythms facilitated by Jack Bevan's athletic drumming, Yannis Phillipakis' attempts at mystical lyrics, the odd set of Antibalas horns - it's one that never remains static, keen to turn back on itself while still progressing as though it were that phone game Snake. Therein you'll hear techno structures, the guitar technical intricacies of Minus The Bear, post-punk revivalism, post-rock, Afrobeat and the propulsiveness of a Gang Gang Dance or !!! all scrunched up, scribbled on and reappropriated as direct dance-punk-pop. That's the key - Phillipakis and Bevan had already had a go at the longeurs in The Edmund Fitzgerald and carry ideas learnt there over into stretched out versions of something to get the smart indie kids to dance again. Specifics: the awkwardness of Olympics Airways, Balloons' thumping jerkiness, the parts where Two Steps Twice appears to be playing in four different temps simultaneously building up to its shoutalong run-in (using vocals as an extra instrument is something they're particularly good at, especially if you only have Phillipakis' uncultured yelp to go with), the ambient textures of Big Big Love (Fig. 2). If they can harness the intensity and mechanics that makes Antidotes such an oblique angle at which to take pop head on from, who knows where they could go in future.


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