Image courtesy of Pitchfork
Review by Utkan Dora Oncul
After 4 years of silence, Oxford indie-rock band Foals dropped the first of a two part album on March 8th. Releasing two connected albums six months apart is surely a bold statement. “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1” is their most ambitious project and yet it is playful, energetic and experimental.
Foals, for me, has always been a band who mastered the art of producing holistically progressive albums in the vein of Pink Floyd or Radiohead. Their last album on the other hand, packs a wider soundscape into a single LP, because it is not meant to be listened on its own, but to function as a collective unit with Part 2. Releasing two albums that are connected with five months gap also introduces the element of time and how the reception of the first album affects the other. Foals is certainly creating a contemporary and puzzling experience for its listeners by feeding them with the half of their musical narrative.
In addition, the band has been through a big change after touring for their 2015 album, “What Went Down”: Walter Gerver, who is the band’s co-founder, dad figure, and bass player retired from the band. This sort of sudden absence would surely leave many bands with a creative block and would create questions about band chemistry. However, Foals did what they know best and jammed in their Oxford studio as if they were producing their first album in 2008. Going with a DIY approach, Foals figured out how to play the bass guitar themselves, as a collective, in the process of recording their studio sessions. Likewise, the album was self-produced rather than working with a professional audio engineer. Hence, synth and electronic production is muddy, mysterious and full of texture in a “Tame Impala” fashion. Even though they previously recorded their albums on tapes, this time, the album was also electronically recorded and processed in Logic, giving full control and speed to the band. Foals only focused on making the sound they love fast, rather than focusing on quirky studio processes.
Here is a band who accepted change as a positive form. Rather than replacing bass player Walter Gerver, the frontman Yannis Philippakis took the Foals under his wing and boosted them with the teenage energy of their first album,“Antidotes”, and guitar-heavy and synth-driven song structures. However, this time, that energy is controlled with way more maturity. Therefore, “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1” asks philosophical questions to the listeners while making them thump out.
“Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1” marks the start of a new era for Foals, but they prove that they are as three-dimensional as a rock band can get.