The Oxford, UK band Foals has undergone some epic changes over the last three years. During that period, the band has experienced heady highs and painful lows. Their 2019 release of the two-parter Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost hit number 1 on the charts, supported by a wildly successful tour, providing a mountaintop experience for the band.
Foals would see the band lose two of their founding members as both resigned from the band. Back in 2018 bassist Walter Gervers would leave to start a family, and keyboardist Edwin Congreave would leave to finish an Economics degree. The results of these changes displayed a band continuing as a trio to tighten up to their musical constructs.
Foals would continue to work on the next release throughout lockdown, not knowing if or when they would be able to tour live to support their efforts. On June 17, the band triumphantly releases Life Is Yours, their seventh studio album, and a celebration of life-affirmation as the world emerges from lockdown. The release is loaded with rambunctious roof-lifting music that challenges the listener to dance along.
Foals on Life Is Yours delivers an amalgam of sunny, motorik, disco/house-influenced music, combined with the proprietary Foals sound of driving guitars and math rock synths. The band looks forward but harkens back to their earlier releases, Antidotes and Total Life Forever. The change in the lineup seems to allow the band to find a new way to express themselves. The heavy mood of their last studio release, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, is lifted in a glorious pop party as only Foals can present.
The band leaves no doubt this is a party affair with the opening eponymous selection, “Life is Yours”, which bursts open with a pop punch as their distinctive guitar sonic takes centre stage reassuring the Foals faithful that the elements that made them so alluring are still present. They declare that it is time to put the pandemic behind us, using an addictive funky bass to create a great summer song that will explode live.
The band continues as they began with “Wake Me Up”, another energy-packed track that segues perfectly with the opener. The song asks us to come dance with them in the streets as the lockdowns become a thing of memory. The sing-along chorus is a panacea to the last two years of dread. “2 am” slows down the euphoria by looking at the changes in relationships. It is here in particular but also throughout the album that the remaining band members seem to show a wistfulness at the departure of their friends and bandmates.
“2001” delivers some serious dance-inducing disco bass as it extols the wonders of summertime, “Blue tongues and candy floss”. Again, this brilliant marriage of sonics from Foals’ Total Life Forever album mixed with pop and disco elements produces a winning track. “Flutter” goes back to the band’s math rock days, adding falsetto vocals from lead singer Yannis Philippakis to create another outstanding track. “Looking High” is a personal favourite. The beautiful structure of the song allows for a swirling feeling yet never loses the dance beat. The lyrics in the song keep it from being too lightweight as the narrator seems to be looking high and low for the life prior to lockdown. The track continues to build and build to an explosive finale which is classic Foals.
“Under the Radar” channels, Devo and the Talking Heads producing a track filled with pleasing Post Punk and New Wave elements. “Crest of the Wave” switches to a melancholy vibe as this mellow floating track unspools. Here Philippakis’ vocals take front and centre as the song provides foam-flecked sunny nostalgia with the almost mournful lyric “I’ll always be waiting for the crest of the wave”. “The Sound” is Foals providing a fantastic blue-eyed soul offering. The drums, funky bass with adamant keyboards delivers a straightforward punch. The final track, “Wild Green”, is a mesmerizing combination of motorik, and techno dollops of goodness. The energy and intricacy of the selection is noteworthy as the momentum builds and builds to a dramatic explosion as that distinctive Foals guitar guides thru cacophony and then nothingness.
Life Is Yours is a worthy addition to the Foals discography and will please fans as they revel in the release’s goodness. Few bands could take the body blow of losing two founding members and not flounder a bit on a new release. The remaining members took the losses in their stride, developing a new way of expressing themselves without losing the central core of what has always made them so alluring.
Their goal with Life Is Yours was to celebrate the world’s reawakening, successfully pulling it off. As the world awakens from the nightmare of the pandemic, many have come to appreciate the bands that are acknowledging and moving on from the pandemic. With Life is Yours, Foals produces a very straightforward celebration of returning to making music.
Foals never disappoint with brilliant releases that cause listeners to look forward to their next offerings. Life Is Yours is destined to be a very successful album for Foals.