The Alibis

Ain’t no foalin’ me.

Towards the end of last year, in a quest for new music, I decided to buy all of the Mercury Prize albums. I quickly became obsessed with Rudimental’s ‘Home,’ and a few tracks off the Villagers’ {Awayland}, especially ‘Earthly Pleasure.’ I thought the Savages’ and Arctic Monkeys’ albums were good, and David Bowie sounded like David Bowie, y’know? I wasn’t terribly overwhelmed by the winner, James Blake. Just a bit bland for me.

In the end though, my favourite of the lot, and my album of 2013, is Foals’ ‘Holy Fire’. I was sort of familiar with Foals first album, but it was all a bit “plinky plinky” math rock for me. Over-processed, artificial-sounding beats and guitars that don’t sound like guitars.


In contrast, on Holy Fire I particularly like the drumming. Sure, there are some shameless bleeps and jangles, for example on ‘Out of the Woods’ and ‘the opening of ‘Bad Habit.’ But overall, I really love how much the drums sound like drums. The snare and cymbal sounds remind me of my own kit and I identify with the style of the rhythms, especially ‘My Number’ and ‘Everytime.’

There also aren’t too many effects on the main guitar, which delivers catchy riffs that are underscored by tight, attentive bass patterns. Mr Foals is a master of simple, repetitive lyrics, which creates a slow build up of anthemic vocals. My favourite track is easily ‘Inhaler,’ which combines all of the above. An epic soundscape with a cracking chorus, it’s punctuated by a funky main riff and some lovely little drum fills, especially at the end of the track.

I only wish Holy Fire ended more with a bang than a whimper. Most of the album charges along, alternating between dark rock and perky pop, but it all drifts uncertainly towards the end, which makes for a much less memorable finish. Nonetheless, I can’t stop listening to it. And even if I’m walking down a crowded street, I like to imagine I’m a rockstar in a packed stadium and join in, ‘I can’t get enough… SPACE!!’

You’ll have to listen to ‘Holy Fire,’ loud, to know what I mean.

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