The Mic dives into the highly anticipated second installment of indie giants Foals' dual-album saga, 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost'.
When announcing that they would be releasing two albums this year, Foals were taking a dangerous gamble that could have ended in disaster. The worry was that instead of producing one, definitive and well-rounded record, the band may have bitten off more than they could chew and released two mediocre, semi-decent yet disappointing albums. But, when dropped in March earlier this year, the first serving of their two-part series was met with an incredible reception. The album delved deep into the band’s new-wave tendencies and was described by many as some of their best work to date, leaving very high expectations for the pending second installment.
I had a lot of questions before the release of this second album on October 18th. Does Part 1 Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost really need a second part? Was the first album their best material, and would the second therefore be the result of the band’s overindulgence in their own work, filled with the drawn out remains of what they cut from the first?
'The worry was that instead of producing one, definitive and well-rounded record, the band may have bitten off more than they could chew and released two mediocre, semi-decent yet disappointing albums'.
Upon listening to the album’s opening track Red Desert, I feared that my initial thoughts were going to be correct; the track’s dramatic, futuristic and intensely cinematic instrumental reminded me of a 70’s synthesiser straight out of a film soundtrack. However, the haunting intro led directly into the previously released single The Runner, picking up where the final songs of Part 1 left off. The single has a captivating hook – one of the catchiest riffs on the album – and, according to frontman Yannis Philippakis, the song invites listeners to be determined and find their purpose, despite the everyday troubles they face, establishing the tone for the album as promised by the band.
Reminiscent of Inhaler, the third track, Wash Off, took me slightly by surprise. Channeling Foals’ roots in math-rock – which is what gained them their fame in the first place – this song features cross-threaded guitars and multiple layers that takes the old Foals and lifts them up a few notches. It has a high tempo, fast pace and short bridges that seem to make it the perfect song to follow The Runner, the already applauded preceding tune.
'[Black Bull] encapsulates all the elements that make the band so distinctive on the modern music scene, with an impressive driving percussion and a feel of pure cockiness'.
Black Bull, also pre-released as a single and definitely Foals’ heaviest track to date, is almost as intimidating as its title. This highly raw song encapsulates all the elements that make the band so distinctive on the modern music scene, with an impressive driving percussion and a feel of pure cockiness. Philippakis goes into full beast mode as his voice is completely blown out, with lyrics such as ‘I got to rip up the road’ emitting a sense of pure aggression and fearlessness.
Situating itself as a sleazy-blues track, Like Lightning is another heavier rock anthem, but with a slower tempo and march-pace that allows the listener to catch their breath after holding it during the previous songs. By contrast, Dreaming Of provides a glimpse into the second half of the album, where the feel of the music takes a dive towards a softer, more haunting and mystical mood. Having said that, this track features some of the album’s most dense and impactful riffs, with a bassline that leads the song and barbed guitar sounds that give it more of a pop feel.
The brief interlude Ikaria is an effective burst of beautiful, atmospheric piano that borders on modern classical and aligns perfectly with the unusually tuneful and psychedelic 10,000 Feet. The latter is a dreamlike track with meaningful lyrics reliving the Icarus myth, featuring a soft guitar riff juxtaposed against its hard-hitting drums and heavy baseline. Into The Surf closely follows suit, with another illusory soundscape that brings back the piano we got a taste of in the interlude.
Finally, we have Neptune – a ten-minute track that is truly representative of all aspects of the band; it ranges from their new-wave edgy and coarse side to their older, somewhat awkward math-rock days, as well as incorporating their introspective side that has been all the more present in their recent work. It harmoniously summarises the entire Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost saga.
'Finally, we have Neptune – a ten-minute track that is truly representative of all aspects of the band'.
Potentially the most relentless the band has ever sounded, Part 2 Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost continues the cinematic and apocalyptic kind of concepts that Part 1 introduced us to earlier this year. It too focuses on environmental and societal collapse, however it does so with a heavier, bolder approach and sets about offering solutions with much less of the contagious dance vibe Part 1 offered. Although it pushes boundaries in terms of its heavy themes and sound, this album is unlikely to cause the end of the world. It does, however, provide the perfect soundtrack for it.