Review: Foals – What Went Down


Face-melting maturity from soon-to-be indie rock legends.

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In response to Will Hodgkinson, the Times writer who reviewed What Went Down, your insistence that Foals will join the likes of Coldplay and Snow Patrol in “the tasteful stadium rock market” is deliberately controversial and a boring prediction for a band who have achieved more musically than many.

What Went Down is a stunning album, opening a new chapter in Foals discography, which has as much of a right to be there as their debut. While steering away from math rock is a predictable game, it demonstrates a maturing sound. Foals are indeed like a fine wine. Their debut Antidotes was the multiple £4 bottles of Echo Falls that you purchased from your local Premier before a heavy night out on the town. What Went Down is, as Philippakis groans in the opening track, ‘a port wine stain’. A more expensive yet well produced album that is bound to sell well and fill concert venues, staining your ears with catchy choruses, but doesn’t lose that edge that Foals bring and conquer the indie music scene with. 

Stand out tracks on the album include ‘Birch Tree’, ‘Albatross’, ‘Snake Oil’ and ‘London Thunder’. The jammy guitar melodies on ‘Birch Tree’ are groove worthy, and a delight to the ears. ‘Snake Oil’ brings a heavier sound to rival ‘Inhaler’, that will likely melt some faces in a live concert. 

However, it is becoming increasingly clear that Foals are unlikely to set foot out of their new comfort zone. Since the release of Total Life Forever, their sound and lyric quality has levelled and plateaued. As much as I hoped the new album would overstep the mark and break from their slowly cementing sound, there is a small comfort in their continued sound. The heavy plucky basslines, extraordinary drum work, and melodious guitar all collects with Philippakis’s raw vocals to create a sound that is distinct and original. 

What Went Down will bring fans of live music a whole new concert experience. The band that brought face melting mosh pit music to the famous Royal Albert Hall and Alexandra Palace can do no wrong in a live setting. Their shows are endlessly entertaining, and their live renditions of their tracks are original and something more than the average band. Tracks such as ‘Mountain At My Gates’ will excel in a live situation, making the purchasing of tickets even more competitive than they currently are. 

What Went Down is out now via Warner Bros.


About Author

Head of Events for The Edge magazine. Keen concert goer and angry feminist. Shared recycled oxygen on a 12 hour flight with Foals.

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