UK outfit Foals made quite a splash in the blogosphere with their 2008 debut, Antidotes, an album of spastic, rhythm-centric indie rock that gained them more than a few comparisons to similarly minded bands like Bloc Party and Klaxons. Now, having just released their follow-up LP, Total Life Forever, the band is making waves with a sound all their own. These new songs display the band’s dancepunk roots, but Foals have learned how to let their songs breathe. On Total Life Forever, singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis now sings more often than he shouts, and the band uses their consistently impressive technical chops to create dizzying, multi-faceted anthems.
Call this iTunes Festival EP a victory lap well deserved, then. The EP offers up six live tracks from a recent set in London, culled evenly from Antidotes and Total Life Forever. The latter album’s complex rhythms and song structures had many fans wondering how the band would properly translate this new work into a live setting. The answer, it turns out: quite well. “Total Life Forever” and “Miami” lose some of the intricacies in their guitar work that the studio’s sheen brings to the album versions, but these live recordings replace that crispness with boundless energy and muscle. These songs sound big. “Alabaster”, a quieter number, suffers in comparison, its breathy vocals proving difficult for Philippakis to replicate out in the open air.
Antidotes highlights “Balloons” and “Two Steps Twice” hold up extremely well next to the new material, their driving beats and layered hooks both easy reminders of what made people excited about this band in the first place. The EP’s real high point, though, is an extended cut of “Electric Bloom”. Always Antidotes’s best song, Foals pump it to twice its size here, filling it with a kicking-and-screaming force that has drummer Jack Bevan absolutely annihilating his kit. The EP’s a good starting point for people looking to jump on board Foals’s increasingly crowded bandwagon, and it should more than satisfy longtime fans, in the process.
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