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Courtesy of Warner Bros.

March 15, 2019

Test Spin | Foals — ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1’

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Hailing from across the Atlantic, the British band Foals is back to reiterate that rock music is not dead. Foals’ adherence to the traditional album format is in itself a testimonial to their rock mentality. They are tenacious in regard to the album listening experience. For a band that stands by rock in the era of hip hop, the longevity of the band is rather a rarity in the contemporary alternative music scene. Five albums into their career, Foals has been playfully experimenting across genres with alternative rock as their focal point.

Foals stand firmly as the embodiment of the amorphous state of rock music. Rock music is not dead; it is just different now. It has been reinventing itself to both adapt to and defy the new era. More than a decade since they emerged in the music scene, with this new record, Foals is at the crossing point at which they could either consolidate their influence or flop along with most of their 2000s peers. In less than three minutes, the opening track “Moonlight” of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 soundly declares Foals’ craving for a new chapter of metamorphosis. With an unprecedented rainforest throb fused in a hue of funk and chillwave, it is not until vocalist Yannis Philippakis’ poignant voice penetrates the wall of ambiance that the song finally strikes as the new Foals sound.

As the follow-up to 2015’s critically acclaimed What Went Down that represents the band’s more polished sound, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost is an anomaly when put in juxtaposition to the band’s discography. With this new album, Foals has left its comfort zone in the dust with their horseshoes. Perhaps this revamp is the unintended consequence of the exit of former bassist Walter Gervers last year. Breaking free from the four-piece rock band format, Foals are empowered to experiment with the endless permutations of arrangements. With Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Foals has paved a new path toward dance-rock. The roaring and thunderous “White Onions” adapts a jumpy disco beat that would make you reconsider your commitment to EDM. This artistic choice reflects both the band’s adaptability and resistance when it comes to the current trends in the industry. Regardless of what the trend is, Foals always twists it in its own favor and flavor.

Deviating from their guitar-oriented style, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost leans heavily on synths to craft a dystopian vision. The album reflects the apocalyptic view that bears resemblance to the Black Mirror narrative. It serves a prophecy for the post-apocalyptic world through the lens of the history of consciousness. When nothing is remembered, everything is lost. The music video for “Exits” adds on a vivid visual portrayal to this connotation. The six minute “Exits” is the highlight of the turbulent and poignant first half of Part 1. Mingling with elements from psychedelic funk and space-age electronica, the track alludes to the glitches and flaws that are apparent in a manipulated digital disruption. This is analogous to Foals’ adherence to rock; When we lose our sense of humanity in a tech dystopia, there is no reclaiming the root.

As we go through the tracklist, the album gradually winds down yet incessantly electrifies us with unexpected endeavors. This stands as a testimony to Foals’ finesse in crafting a comprehensive album listening experience. “Cafe D’Athens” stands out in the second half of Part 1. The song bears resemblance to “15 Steps” and “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” from Radiohead’s In Rainbow with its math-rock influence. The plunking xylophones denote the futuristic tone that leads the unknown trajectories of this experimental work. As the album quickly wraps up with a climactic conglomerate track “Sunday” that blends disco beats and lush synths with the signature alt-rock guitar, Yannis’ haunting voice tears apart the tranquility and stands as a potent denouncement for the status quo.

Part one of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost came as a pleasant surprise after alternative rock had remained stagnant for years. While the raw new sound in this experimental work is much appreciated, it is apparent that Foals also intends to venture to retain its math-rock based intricacies with their meticulous composition. It will be interesting to re-examine the work in completion with the second part of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, which will be released this fall. Foals will actually hop across the Atlantic this spring. They will embark on their North American tour shortly next week, but there is no date for an Ithaca concert.

 

Stephen Yang is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at sy364@cornell.edu.