Foals released a new album, Holy Fire, on Tuesday. It has been causing a stir across the pond in England, where the band is from, as well as some confusion domestically, where the sound waves of Holy Fire have been hitting my eardrum. I don’t know whether or not I like this album, which is a problem, considering “knowing whether or not I like this album” is the one job I have today. So I’ve conducted an informal, information-gathering question-and-answer session with myself to get to the bottom of this.
What does Holy Fire sound like?
I can comfortably describe it as an amalgamation of haunting, dance-friendly beats, with an occasional display of guitar virtuosity, all wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow on top. The paradox here is that there’s a lot going on instrumentally but there’s not a whole lot going on in totality; it sounds cliché, but really, all of the songs do sound alike.
Why do you think that is?
The album seems to contain two or three long, steady, omnipresent drum beats, as if they’re set to loop for 15 minutes each for the duration of the 50-minute album (this isn't actually true but it's not far off). The vocals are also a touch on the flat side, and it’s easy to drift off to sleep, as I actually did at one point.
You are making them sound awful. They can’t be that bad, can they?
If I’m making them sound awful, excuse me, that is not my intent. The 6th track, “Late Night,” is one of the tracks that really works; a track in which the beat ascends in speed and power almost the entire time, culminating with an awesome and unexpected guitar solo that this album needs more of.
Are there any other songs on the album that you like?
Yes, there are. I’ll talk about the first song, “Prelude,” because discussing it is a great way to illustrate the overall dissonance I’m having with myself: In theory, this is the kind of music I like, but I just don’t think I like this. “Prelude” is a five minute instrumental, with some distorted vocals thrown in that you can’t really decipher. I’m not sure what the exact definition of trance music is, but the beginning of “Prelude” has got to be it, or at least close. Anyway, I was in a pleasantly stimulating trance for the first two minutes, just minding my own business when suddenly the track turned into music straight out of a video game. Seriously: It sounded exactly like the type of music I used to listen to as I was picking my team in NFL Blitz. It lasted about 30 seconds, but completely ruined the song for me.
Held at gunpoint, life on the line, would you be able to distinguish a random song off Holy Fire from a song off The Temper Trap’s self-titled third album?
Horrifically bizarre scenario, but no, no I wouldn’t. In fact, the comparisons go beyond that. Both bands have five members, both bands were formed in 2005, and both bands speak Queen’s English. Are they the same band? I don't know. But I do know that conspiracy theories have been hatched in the wake of much smaller revelations.
But you kind of liked The Temper Trap, didn't you?
I did. More than anything, I think Holy Fire is a victim of overproduction. Just look at the two videos for “Prelude,” below: they sound like two completely different tracks. Foals is something really special: they are a band I’d pay a lot of money to see live, who have recorded an album I don’t particularly want to listen to ever again.