Foals’ sound largely unchanged on new album

Tanner Owens

Marking the first of two albums released in 2019, Foals’ fifth studio album, “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost — Part 1,” came out March 8.

The 39-minute album features a familiar Foals sound that somehow has not become dull, but also ventures into uncharted territory. In the later tracks of the album, Foals steps away from the guitar-heavy ruckus that made them a Brit-rock sensation in the mid 2000s and instead experiments with dance and piano-driven, emotionally charged slow songs.

Foals has been around since 2005, forming in Oxford, England. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis quickly solidified his status as one of Britain’s hardest rocking frontmen and lended his voice to a generation that produced other Brit-rock staples, such as the Kooks and the Arctic Monkeys.

While other Brit-rock acts in a similar vein as the Foals have teetered off the charts or changed their sound completely (see Arctic Monkeys’ 2018 album, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino), Foals’ sound remains largely unchanged.

And as the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

“Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost — Part 1” features clear gems and an assortment of interesting dabbles into other genres. “On the Luna” is an immediate standout. While Foals’ songs have a tendency to be drowned out by overzealous guitar riffs, “On the Luna” is produced far better. Every instrument plays an integral role in making the song work. With a steady beat of cowbell similar to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” the song is driven by a two-guitar attack, led by Philipakis and guitarist Jimmy Smith. The song is neatly accented by a synth piece toward the middle and end of the song.

However, with all the grandiose guitar work and flawless use of synthesizers and drums, Foals still find themselves plagued by the same issue that has bogged down in their past albums. The album, although coming in at only 39 minutes, contains three songs well over the five-minute mark, with two more being only seconds shy.

“Exits,” the lead single of the album, is a bass-heavy treat dictated by Philippakis’ impressive tenor voice. The song proceeds to go into an unnecessary two-and-a-half minute instrumental sequence prolonging the song well past any listener’s interest.

The meat of this album comes from Edwin Congreave’s beefy, growling basslines. Throughout the album, Congreave’s fingerprints are all over, dominating almost every song with beautiful basslines that expertly accompany Philippakis’ efforts on guitar and the mic. No song is this more apparent than in another five minute-reaching song, “Syrups.”

“Syrups” overstays its welcome as well in the new album, but not in the same way as “Exits.” While “Exits” reserved instrumentals for the ending half of the song, “Syrups” bounces between energetic spurts of vocals and guitar before fading back into the void of mediocre instrumentals.

All this aside, Foals have produced an exceptional album, one that keeps a sound alive that many bands have lost or given up on. The closing song of the album, “I’m Done With the World (And It’s Done With Me),” is an unusually emotional ballad that is uncharacteristic for the rock group. In an interview with Apple Music, Philippakis revealed that out of all the songs on the album, this one came the most naturally.

“I listened to this song [that drummer Jack Bevan had sent] on the walk down on my headphones and sang it immediately after I arrived to the studio,” Philippakis said. “We never worked on it again as it just felt so complete.”