Album Review: Foals Make Grand Return on Ambitious Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

The Lowdown: With their first album since 2015’s What Went Down, British indie rockers Foals return with their most ambitious effort yet. Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, releasing in two parts as a double album, touches on the inevitability and cynicism that faces our current time. Foals take this underlying motif on Part One and coil it around the heavy guitars and rhythmic percussion that they have come to be known for.

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The Good: Everything Not Saved opens with soft synth pads that fluctuate with frontman Yannis Philippakis’ signature, gravelly timbre. Throughout the record, it ranges from soft and graceful, such as on sung ballad “Sunday”, to roaring and thunderous, as heard on “White Onions.” With the loftiness that the band aims for, they allow these tracks to evolve and breathe. This is perfectly encapsulated on the aforementioned “Sunday”, where it transitions from an immense openness to tightly wound, four-on-the-floor dance grooves.

Foals succeed at what they are most familiar with. “In Degrees” recalls the percussive impetus of Holy Fire’s “My Number”, and opener “Moonlight” reminisces on the tranquil glow of Total Life Forever’s “Blue Blood”. This is a band that understands how to expand upon previously explored ideas without recycling them to the point of banality.

The Bad: Although Foals are comfortable in previously traversed terrain, it’s when they make attempts at unconventional sounds that fall a bit short. The marimba that carries “Cafe D’Athens” feels out of place with its surroundings. The closing track, “I’m Done with the World (& It’s Done With Me)”, presents itself as a bit of an underwhelming conclusion for a band acquainted with adventurous, monumental sounds, especially following the standout “Sunday”. The record’s lead single, “Exits”, overstays its welcome as well, coming off as slightly repetitive after the three-minute mark.

The Verdict: For the most part, Foals stick to what they know. Longtime fans will know what to expect from the indie-rock band that’s been releasing records since the mid-aughts, but predictability isn’t always a fault. The Brit rockers fully understand what they excel at, and they take advantage of the syncopated brashness that they best exemplify.

Essential Tracks: “Moonlight”, “In Degrees”, and “Sunday”

Buy: Pick up a copy of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost and other Foals vinyl here.

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