Foals – Antidotes


UK indie band, Foals, fashion themselves as the common, unifying link between “the minimalism of American composer Steve Reich, guitars that sound like insects and tennis player Andy Roddick.” Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense at all but it is that quirky, unique personality that makes the Foals debut, Antidotes, such an exciting album. This is a fresh, exhilarating listen that recalls bands from The Police to Bloc Party to Vampire Weekend to White Rabbits. And in some weird, inexplicable manner the guitars often do sound like insects.

The first single, “Cassius” is an upbeat, toe-tapping tune. The guitars are slick and jumpy and the drums have a lot of snare flourishes with steady hi-hat; the horns are also a nice touch. The song is exactly what you could hope for in a single—catchy and danceable. The band has claimed that they began making music because they “wanted to make music that was very technical…but at the same you could dance to it.” And this is prevalent here because the music is well-thought out and stylishly orchestrated.

This isn’t just your run of the mill, hyped, indie rock album. Reasonable chunks of the music are instrumental breakdowns where the band displays their fine musicianship. “Red Socks Pugie” begins with a jazzy drum pattern, Yannis Philippakis’ singing and few atmospheric touches before a great guitar and bass breakdown come in. The music rides to a swift tempo of pure dance rock; it’s so enjoyable, I defy you to not at least tap your foot.

And now, the issue on the David Sitek (of TV on the Radio fame) production. The liner notes do state that album was produced Sitek; however, multiple sources have stated that the band ditched his production and re-produced it themselves because they were unhappy with the results. The first thank you in the liner notes also goes out to Sitek but the music sounds clear, lively and polished so read into it what you will.

The music is diversified and multi-dimensional because the band covers a lot of aspects. “Two Steps Twice” begins with a guitar instrumental before the usual suspects arrive. The song transitions into a great combination of a repetitive guitar line, Philippakis’ yelping and those great drum patterns. The music cuts out again and it allows the instruments to shine before the band starts chanting, “Pa pa-ra, pa pa-ra, pa pa-ra, pa paaa.” The music hits a climax as the entire band unites to close out a terrific song.

And this album is chock-full of songs like the aforementioned. The majestic stick-tapping and pretty guitar at the beginning of “Big Big Love (Fig. 2),” the pounding bass line on “Electric Bloom” or even the video-game like electronics on the fittingly titled album closer, “Tron.” This is certainly much more than just a “dance rock” album and it is one remarkable listen. Foals certainly have a sound all to their own: unique vocal layering and harmonies, intricate guitar and drum playing, selective instrumentation and a knack for melodies. They have crafted a terrific debut album and are prime to make a dent in the indie community.