Foals, "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost—Part 1" (Warner Bros.)
This year we are promised not just one Foals album, but two. And after listening to the first, we're very, very lucky indeed.
The U.K. indie-pop art rockers offer 10 new crackling tracks on "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost—Part 1," their first since the departure of bassist Walter Gervers.
While the band's last album, 2015's "What Went Down," veered toward Coldplay, this time they seem more Radiohead-ish, with more complexity, shards of distorted synth and a nightmarish vision of the world.
"Exits" is one of the standouts, a paranoid, post-apocalyptic pop-rock beauty ("The cities underground/The flowers upside down," frontman Yannis Philippakis sings). The gentle-sounding "Sunday" takes that theme and adds burning cities and birds singing about the end of the world.
"Syrups" is a psychedelic trip with a driving funk beat, squealing guitars and lyrics about robots and the devil. "On the Luna" is a terrific childhood memory rocker interrupted by the present ("Trump clogging up my computer") and frayed sonic edges.
Foals are their most Radiohead—both bands hail from the city of Oxford—on "Cafe D'Athens" (you'll swear Tom Yorke is singing.) And listen to "In Degrees" and applaud the insane mix of '80s new wave pop, house, rave and trip-hop that somehow works.
Like many Foals albums, "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost—Part 1" is top-heavy with great songs before petering out. (The 44-second instrumental "Surf, Pt. 1" may make more sense if there's a follow-up on the next album, but it seems like wasted time here).
The album ends—after all that fascinating exploration—with the simple, mournful piano dirge "I'm Done with the World (& It's Done with Me)." It's a real downer: Leaves are on fire, Philippakis is on his knees and it's raining. But there's one bright spot: In a few months, we'll get Part 2.