Album Review: What Went Down by Foals
Foals are a band of many talents; the Oxford band have become renowned for both their musical intricacies and pulsating live performances. In the wake of three hugely successful studio albums comes What Went Down, a boisterous and hyper-masculine album pumped full of snarling vocals and Yannis Philippakis’ alluring vocals to counteract.
The title track, ‘What Went Down’, has garnered a lot of attention as of late — the low slung vocals and fuzzy riff of guitar can be seen as a combination of all their previous albums formed in one perfect song. The five minute long track starts off with the classic still of the band’s ‘Total Life Forever’ but the screaming, muscle metal clatter that emerges midway through is more in line with the style of ‘Holy Fire’.
Their fourth album seems to have a much darker undertone, Philippakis’ vocals are refined and are given greater dominance throughout several songs, accompanied by nothing more than the cool pulse of drums, ultimately progressing into an embracing powerhouse of vocals. Tracks such as ‘London Thunder’ commence with haunting, stirringly transient vocals before moving into more measured, heavy percussive before culminating in a cacophonous symphony of noise. What Went Down is the album version of a perfect storm: haunting, powerful, and beautiful to behold — it marks the development of Foals as a serious rock band with an edge.
‘Snake Oil’ and ‘Albatross’ are tracks that epitomise this musical development for Foals, with a bluesier, gritty feel to them. There’s a more refined element to these tracks, the delivery more contained, all in an attempt to emphasise Philippakis’ smoother than silk vocals. The measured element of these songs acts as antidote to the more darkly sounds of the track, Foals bring their fans right to the edge and then send you back in a different direction.
What Went Down is a specialisation in modern day rock, filled with anthemic beats, thumping drums, fuzzed up guitar, throbbing sounds and synth rock luminous electronics.
Review by Elaine McDonald