FOALS Holy Fire LP
Foals Holy Fire on LP + Download Card
Detroit. Willesden. Olympos, on the Greek island of Karpathos. “The inside of our skulls.” These are the places that make up Holy Fire, Foals third album, their most direct and fully realized album yet. The album entered the UK charts at #2 in February of 2013 (their highest chart entry to date) and gave them their first #1 album in Australia. Foals have stepped up from, as Yannis puts it, "songs for indie clubs" to something much, much bigger. Their third album might not sound like Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails, but it has much of the same ambitious spirit and grandiose aesthetic that led to those groups touching the lives of millions. This is the sound of Foals arriving.
It's all a long way from the group's early years in Oxford, where Yannis Philippakis (26), Jack Bevan (27), Walter Gervers (29), Edwin Congreave (28) and Jimmy Smith (28) convened after spells in various well regarded bands such as The Edmund Fitzgerald, whose intricacies were a league away from the Libertines-influenced indie skiffle and American garage rock that dominated at the time. Debut album Antidotes (2007) attempted to capture the live energy and sense of spontaneity that had made Foals one of the most sought-after live acts in the UK. 2010 follow-up Total Life Forever was a surprise to many (Foals never sit still for long) dealing in more expansive, eloquent sounds and a more mellow feel inspired in part by Foals' long-time enthusiasm for weed.
Much like the classic Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins albums that Flood and Moulder have previously collaborated on, Holy Fire finds Foals uniting the personal with bigger themes – specifically feelings of contemporary dread. So album closer ‘Moon’ is one of the most affecting pieces the band have written, “describing the end of the world, the destruction of your body and everything disintegrating,” Yannis says. “It's acceptance, a beautiful type of destruction, you're in a pacific state with no resentment or sorrow.”
This developed from an experience on Foals’ last tour of the US. “We went to Detroit and it affected me like no other place has before,” Yannis says. “I saw these blue collar workers who you could imagine 15 years ago working as these honest Americans, but everything had obviously been collapsed in by crystal meth. Opposite the venue were these tenement blocks where most of the windows were smashed out and there'd be lights flickering inside, and it was just freakish, it was dystopian. It was the embodiment of the fall of the Empire.”
Yet in contrast to this observed hell is Yannis’ own personal place of solace. Halfway through the recording of Holy Fire, Yannis felt the need to retreat to Olymbos, the remote village in Greece that is his family’s home. “I was getting a bit lost being in Willesden and the studio the whole time, whirlwinding a little bit,” Yannis says. In Greece, he says, “I've got a duel identity. I start to get lost and tie myself in knots when I've been here too long, and I forget that there's this whole other thing that I can plug into and it feels like this archaic backbone that's I'm part of.” There, where his father still makes traditional musical instruments and "creative values are paramount", people participate in songs, sagas and dances that date back hundreds of years to the Byzantine Empire. “It's very evocative of this long gone time,” Yannis says. ”Plugging in makes me feel connected to this bloodline. It makes me sturdy again.”
So Holy Fire is a record of contrasts, of Foals feeling themselves liberated to create a record that perhaps they didn’t even realize they had within them. "It's been the least harrowing of all the records,” says Yannis, before adding, ”in a lot of ways it's not been harrowing at all, and I think a lot of that has been Flood and Moulder. We vacillate between our experimental side and the side that enjoys the possibilities of what pop music can do, that it can speak outside it's own barrier. If anything we feel that we've made a record that doesn't exist between those two subsets. I feel content that we've made a record that is just what it should have been.”
Foals Holy Fire Track Listing:
3. My Number
4. Bad Habit
6. Late Night
7. Out Of The Woods
8. Milk & Black Spiders