In the spring of this year, Alternative rockers Foals promised a second full LP to follow their new release “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1”. On October 18th they keep their promise. Part 2 of “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost” completes the narrative begun with Part 1. In an era where the double album has gone the way of the VCR tape, the rollout of two albums in less than six months has become risky and thus a rare event. The reason this is rare is because all too often the first album outshines the second. Second releases all too frequently are overloaded with outtakes and lesser quality offerings. This is not the case for Foals. “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt 2” if anything could be stronger than Part 1.
Where Part 1 slightly muffled the exuberance that has made prior Foals’ releases so alluring, this latest release is direct, resplendent and takes no prisoners. They have returned to their trademark unrepentant, pugnacious intensity. Not that Part I is inferior but its impact was delivered with an intentionally more muted touch. The excellence of Part I has been supported by its entry on the shortlist of this year’s Mercury Prize. With the release of Part 2 Foals delivers two halves of a whole, delivering quality throughout each effort.
Foals recorded “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt 2” during the same 18 month period as Part 1. The band developed and self-produced both efforts utilizing the same band line up; Yannis Philippakis, Jack Bevan, Edwin Congreave, and Jimmy Smith. The latest release continues to examine the anxiety of our current political state and the problems that stem from having everything yet feeling so isolated and unfulfilled. Where there was often a more subdued sonic on Part 1, Part 2 let’s rip with roof lifting rock riffs and powerful vocals. The band once again looks to answer the unanswerable question of what happens when the worst has taken place and how we respond.
“Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt 2” begins with the glorious mood piece “Red Desert”. The glistening swirling keyboards set the scene acting as a bridge from Part 1. The idea of this paired track structure has become a synonymous with the band as they have repeated this stylization numerous times throughout their discography. Their best coupling up till now has been the “Prelude/Inhaler” pairing on “Holy Fire”. From this relatively hypnotic intro track, the band proceeds to open up the floodgates of their sonic attack. “The Runner” delivers a healthy dose of Foals’ goodness. The narrative is that of a survivor from the dystrophic end of Part I running through the rubble of civilization. The lyrics liken life to running a marathon, identifying all that motivates the individual to keep going. The sonics mark their territory with a heavy rock ethos scratching the itch of fans. The song also reveals lead singer Yannis Philippakis in fine vocal fettle as the band delivers a spectacular opening volley for the album.
The selection “Wash Off” is reminiscent of early Foals’ works, “Antidotes and Total Life Forever” spring to mind. The track is loaded with jittery, Math rock bounce paired with a more prevalent bass thump. Additionally, a signature guitar riff along with heavenly keyboards makes for another winning entry. Lyrically the song examines all the wrongs we inadvertently participate in due to our selfishness and how we procrastinate in making amends. The impressive ‘Black Bull” has this building intro that breaks forth with a spectacular driving percussion displaying a band that is firing on all cylinders. The song encapsulates all the elements that make Foals so distinctive in today’s music world. The drama is palpable as Philippakis vocally barely keeps control of the beast within. The themes played out include the audacity of fearlessness, arrogance and spite. Additionally, the track attempts to decipher the conflicts between masculinity, ego and humanity necessity.
“Like Lightning” is a gutsy rocker laden with a clapping chorus that underpins this stomping rockfest. The knuckle-dragging groove serves this deeper look at the heart winning out over the head. All the while proposing that it’s isn’t audacious to brag if you accomplish the thing you set out to do, and succeed by doing it your own way. The band returns to origins with “Dreaming Of” which is filled with the kind of Math rock the band utilized on “Total Life Forever” with such success. The song gives a hat tip to classic spiky Pixies songs of legend. The track is best characterized as a pop song that has been pulled around like taffy. The lyrics discuss dreams and their influence while warning not to dream your life away and miss what is important.
The beautiful piano piece “Ikaria” acts as a transition piece for the second half of the album where a more haunted mythical feeling prevails. This concept plays out particularly on “10,000 Feet” combines the legend of Icarus with pondering modern forms of death. The narrator of the track like Icarus is in freefall looking to be caught. The arresting opening guitar riff lures the listener into the theme of the selection, putting the emphasis on the message and meaning of the track. Whereby providing evidence that the band has grown significantly in their ability to write sophisticated songs. “Into the Surf” slows the tempo to create a majestic rumination about the thought of dying far from home and family. The repeated lyric “If I don’t make it home let the jasmine grow around my bones” provides a foundation for this evocative ballad. The topic is dark but the accompaniment is sunlit and expansive perfectly balancing the track.
The final offering, “Neptune” clocks in at over 10 minutes but this soaring send off to Foals’ two album odyssey is well worth the time investment. There is a pervading sense of the forlorn. The desire to escape our inevitable mortality is palpable throughout the song. The sonics in contrast explode and keep expanding, growing even more alluring as the song unwinds. Choirs of Rock angels send the listener off as Foals asks the eternal question, do we put forth the effort to fix what is broken in ourselves and society or do we give up, resolute in accepting our doom?
Foals have always differentiated themselves from the other bands of their era not because what they say is that different, but by the way, they say it. Their unflinching intensity has always carried the day. Once again as on Part 1, they are starting to put as much emphasis on what they are saying, as in how they are saying it, while not forgetting the sonics that has won them so many fans. Along the way they have developed into true masters of their craft, utilizing the dramatic and the authentic to produce an unblinkingly unique discography. Each track on “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt 2” is potent and engaging with not a filler song in the lot. This release is my favourite Foals album since “Holy Fire” and gives it strong competition. Foals by releasing these two impressive albums once again builds anticipation for their next project. On “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 2” Foals with the second part of their project have counter-intuitively saved the best for last.