Holy Fire is the latest studio album from British rock outfit Foals. With their prior two efforts having been met with exceptional praise, there is a lot of pressure on Holy Fire to deliver as much as the first two albums and yet continue to innovate and evolve. It has been three years since the release of Total Life Forever, but has it been worth it.
The time between albums has seemed to do Foals a world of good. As soon as the album begins we notice the growth which has taken place within the band. There are equal parts old and new mixed together to offer both fans and newcomers an outlet. The sound is far grander and more organic than the sterile style which they favoured in their previous work, but still sits in the same area of some form of obscure middle ground between dance and indie.
While a song like ‘My Number’ is a classic Foals song pushed to the very limits of catchiness, the song ‘Inhaler’ has a lot more of a mellowed Stoner Rock vibe to it. Then there are songs such as ‘Milk & Black Spiders’ which are never destined to be as popular as the singles. While it can be admired from a musical standpoint, it will just never have the same charm as the singles
In terms of production the album is an absolute gem. Every aspect of the band shines through the mix perfectly. Whether it be the muted twang of a guitar, the driven bass lines or the emotional wailing of Yannis Philippakis, all aspects which felt integral to Foals have been carried into this album. We also see the leaps they have made as both composers and musicians.
Despite the much praise which the album will deservedly get, it is not without its faults. Firstly there are one or two songs which seem rather obvious filler material; I skip ‘Stepson’, which serves to hold Holy Fire back from being quite as accomplished an album as Foals deserve. As well as this there is a nagging feeling while listening to something like ‘Inhaler’ that the track should be about a minute shorter – and this goes for almost all of the album.
Holy Fire from name alone promised an event which was epic in scale and magical in execution. Alas it doesn’t quite make it there. If you have bought and enjoyed either of Foals’ back catalogue I would feel confident in you finding something to like about their new album. However if you have never listened to them before I would suggest just downloading ‘Inhaler’ and ‘My Number’, or going back and listening to Antidotes.