Tag Archives: spanish sahara

Foals – Total Life Forever (2010)

21 May

[Album: Total Life Forever]
[Label: Transgressive / 2010]
[Rating: 6.5]

Can horses dance? Who cares, really.

I like to paint pictures of how an album should be listened to, in order to give an idea of what should be expected. I judge an album by its cover, and judge it by the image the cover articulates (if it is good enough to make any impression on me at all.)


Picture yourself on the deck of an old rustic sailboat. A magnificent and stunning sailboat that is so large, the vast ocean surrounding it appears to be no more than a puddle in its wake. The vessel is something of myth – something untouchable, something intangible. The night drapes itself around you as stars paint holes in the canvas that is the sky. You don’t know whether this peacefulness is chilling in its tranquility; or whether this peacefulness is affirmation that a storm is soon to follow. The atmosphere encompasses everything – your mindset, your emotion, your view on what is taking place around you. But being on this ship is unsettling; the water – the ocean – can have that affect, and I think it is no coincidence that the album cover of Total Life Forever reflects this. The album follows a direction that, for the sake of making my painted picture seem relevant, follows the structure of beginning, chaos, and resolution. That being said, you don’t really know what to expect at any part in any song, which sometimes pays off huge, and sometimes disappoints big time.

The album starts off with Blue Blood which is honestly one of the stronger songs Foals has to offer. It is a slow building ballad filled with jangly guitars and heavy reverb, and apparently lead singer Yannis’ singing is a huge step forward for the band (who knew!). It breaks in and sounds awesome, using some really great drum patterns over a danceable bass line. It may not be the most rewarding break-in on the album but it’s still pretty solid.

The song itself can be seen as a foreshadowing of the albums direction, driving itself from a quiet piece of music into a symphonic ball of chaos. It gets a little bit messy at time but stays catchy throughout (I think there are horns? If so very cool).

The album is really top-heavy, however, which is where it runs into trouble. The first five songs were all pretty special, with Black Gold and Spanish Sahara fulfilling all my deepest musical needs. But This Orient, the second single, sounds like a crappy Bloc Party rip-off that is easily forgettable.

It seems to send the back end of the album into a downward spiral, After Glow starts off with some really cool guitars, but proceeds to break in obnoxiously making ears feel like porta-potties. Maybe you’re into that, but its not my cup of tea. The next few songs build themselves extremely well and show a lot of promise, but seem to be afraid to fully break-in, which is particularly frustrating (Oh and 2 Trees sounds like an advert for a blood donor clinic).

The album definitely surprised me, as I was expecting a repeat of their 2008 debut. Black Gold and Spanish Sahara will find their way onto some future “best of” lists for sure. However, Total Life Forever didn’t blow me away by any stretch, and I really thought it had the potential to do so. The album seems like a step in the right direction for the boys; standing on the edge of the great sailboat, it seems as though Foals are thinking of jumping in but for now they’re only ready to dip a toe or two.

-Dave, May 21, 2010

Foals – Spanish Sahara:

Foals – Black Gold:

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