Foals: Total Life Forever

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Aidan Williamson

04th May 2010
At 16:27 GMT

3 comment(s)

That moment when you first make contact with the glass ceiling must be a tough one. After all, if it's cleaned well, you're never gonna know that it was ever going to be there to begin with.

If anything, it's reflection and refraction of light could make that which resides above all the more beautiful. At some point during the recording of Total Life Forever, Foals became the curious girl who realised that she was under glass. They seem destined to always be the best band that it's difficult to love.

What brings about such conclusions? After all, their blend of alternative dance and indie is something of an inspired move. The Rapture have tried it (using different elements of each respective genre) and Radio 4 have likewise tried to create hybrids of the two styles as well as countless others. The main issue people draw with dance music though, is its lack of humanity. It has a purpose to make you move, not to make you feel. Therefore, when you pair it with indie music - a style previously known for its dealings with social and emotional issues - you have to decide which of these two directives you want to follow.

Yannis Philippakis, for his part, seems unwilling to get his hands dirty. His faultless delivery is rousing and interesting, but always seems to be keeping itself at a distance. There are exceptions of course. On the tremendous "Black Gold", Philippakis finally seems to lower his guard, possibly swayed by an ensemble backing him which impressively explore all manner of explosive genre-fusions. The feat continues on into the introduction of the demure "Spanish Sahara". 

None of this prevents Total Life Forever from being an exceptional album, a work of genius, but it does somewhat reduce their ability to create something deserving of love, as opposed to revered admiration. Calculation is trait of a consummate professional, and the album reeks of it. There's never a moment which doesn't seem perfectly tailored to fuse styles of music in a brand new way. But no one writes poems about their love of mathematics (except perhaps the crazy kids), and the seemingly cold calculation does lessen the immersive nature of the album. 

So if you value technical proficiency above all else: welcome to your new favourite album. But like a child raised by a stern father, he may have the respect, but he'll probably love his mother more.

Rating:  8 / 10

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