What Went Down by Foals | Album Review

WHEN: 28.08.2015
WHERE: Transgressive Records

Last week I was at Reading Festival. The entirety of Thursday/Friday was spent wondering who the secret act would be and where they would be playing. Somebody mentioned that there was a space at 2:30pm on the BBC Introducing stage (great stage by the way, I saw NARCS and Viola Beach there) on Saturday and we all freaked out, then I went to the arena a little bit earlier. It was 1:45pm and we’re heading towards the NME stage when hold on! FOALS ARE PLAYING RIGHT NOW. I immediately ran into the stage and caught their half hour long set which was pretty great, and now I’m back home I see that their new album What Went Down is out. Awesome.

Hailed and promoted as their “heaviest album yet” What Went Down had a lot to live up to. Foals have stayed pretty firmly in the centre of creating indie rock music that’s a little bit dance-y in parts, a little bit poppy in others and generally pretty atmospheric too, so for them to come forth with something that’s heavy was pretty exciting. This change in sound was certainly confirmed on the track What Went Down, which saw Foals deliver guitar riffs and drumbeats and hooks that focused on clocking you in the jaw. The track is heavy and catchy and if Foals could continue following this experimental walkabout then this record could be pretty darn great.

Lead single Mountain At My Gates follows up with a quick return to traditional Foals. Much like My Number and Inhaler this track delivers some quiet guitar riffs and melodies that throw us right back into the Spanish Sahara once again. While it’s not exactly the type of follow up we were expecting from the opening track, Foals still display a level of intensity and aggression in the drums, the vocals and the structure that hasn’t been heard in a long, long time.

Unfortunately the energetic war cry of What Went Down fades away and all promise of power chords and noise disappear as tracks such as Birch Tree and Give It All confirm that they would rather continue to walk in the direction we’ve seen Foals head down for years now rather than lace up their boots for a new path. Luckily Birch Tree is a great song full of melodies and layers that create one of the best instrumentals on the album, but the potential of change could have made it so much better.

Instead of moaning about “wahh there’s no heavy” What Went Down does offer some good moments too. Snake Oil is a track in which Foals combine their sound nicely with the experimentation, creating an instrumental that shows gusto and gets me breathing heavy. Lonely Hunter is another track that showcases an instrumental that’s interesting and closing track A Knife In The Ocean is also pretty good too.

What Went Down offered a lot of promise of a new direction for Foals and sadly while the band have dabbled tiny efforts in experimentation the majority of the record is material showcasing a sound we’ve heard before. Instead of this being a turning point for Foals the record is just another Foals record, one which started off very brightly but unfortunately faded into nothingness. Stream the record below, and for more music reviews, free downloads and interviews check out Exploding Head Syndrome on Facebook and Twitter.

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