Starting out with the sound of rain and floating into sounds that will instantly remind you of travel (even though there are no sounds of cars, trains, or planes), Foals’ Holy Fire is an excellent indie / math rock journey.
“Inhaler,” the album’s second track is a toe-tapping tune you’ll want playing through your earbuds as you walk out of the international airport and toward your snazzy rental car or limousine. It’s popcorn-popper guitar and spacey vocals by Yannis Philippakis meld perfectly with some wicked high-hat work by drummer Jack Bevan. A friend of mine proclaimed this as one of the best singles of 2013 and I think he’s right.
“My Number” is a fun gem with more popping guitar by Philippakis and Jimmy Smith. The follow up, “Bad Habit,” is another song about a relationship in a weird situation. Whereas “My Number” seems to be about a guy trying to convince a girl to take his phone number and call him (and thus start a fun relationship), “Bad Habit” is the opposite. Philippakis proclaims that he’s a “bad habit you can’t shake” and that he’s dragging down the relationship…and then Walter Gervers kicks in on bass along with Bevan’s drums and you think they might have a chance after all.
The next two tracks, “Everytime” and “Late Night,” are a nice double whammy. “Everytime” is another rocker, and then “Late Night” starts with Edwin Congreave’s somber synths and takes your brain in another direction as it builds with some more wicked Bevan high-hat and precision guitar work from Philippakis and Smith. Congreave especially shines on this cut.
I have to wonder if “Out of the Woods” is a callback to the earlier songs about strained relationships and that our lovers have ironed out the wrinkles. I also have to wonder what “Milk and Black Spiders” is about. A bad acid trip? Something that happened one Halloween? Amazing guitar work? Yes, that must be it.
“Providence” starts out with gospel-like vocals and then the band slams into a wicked groove that will make you lurch for the volume knob. You’ll want this blasting through the house. The last two tracks, “Stepson” and “Moon,” are nice comedowns after such a euphoric track.
This is a great indie rock record and one of the best I’ve heard all year. Foals is already selling out dates in their native United Kingdom, so they’re the real deal. So is this record.
~ Nik Havert
Nik Havert is a writer, DJ at WSND 88.9FM University of Notre Dame, harmonica player, martial arts instructor, comic book publisher, crime fighter,music lover, cult movie enthusiast, and modern day Renaissance man. He hopes to shark cage dive sometime in the next few years and enjoys travel and good natural root beer. Visit his web site at http://www.picklepress.net.