“This is our idea of a going-out record,” Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis told us in January of their seventh album ‘Life Is Yours’. Speaking to NME for the band’s ninth cover interview in their 17-year history, he added: “We were thinking about parties, club nights and being drunk on the bus at 2am trying to get home. All of it: the excitement before you go out, meeting up with your friends, the wild abandon. ‘Who’s got the pingers? Where are we going?’ This is all of that youthful excess of going out.”
It’s a threat that has long lingered in Foals’ music. From the mathier moments on their dance-punk, indie sleaze-defining 2008 debut ‘Antidotes’, the Oxford art-rockers have often flirted with the dancefloor – most notably on indie night staple ‘My Number’ and the techno-driven ‘In Degrees’. Still, they’ve never fully lost themselves to the sesh on a record. Their expansive sister albums ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ Part One and Part Two were Foals very much exploring much more lofty, grand and proggy territory as they considered the end of days, rather than what the night ahead had in store.
Born of a time when such exploits weren’t possible and written in dusty bunkers in locked down Peckham, ‘Life Is Yours’ was made as a manifesto for those good times we were all denied by the pandemic. Having themselves lost another member with the departure of keyboardist Edwin Congreave, Foals headed into this process as a lean, mean, party-starting machine. The opening title track showcases that taut approach, warm optimism and fixed focus as Afrobeat rhythms greet Yannis comes blinking out of lockdown, rave-ready, can in hand: “Now that the great storm is over, I can finally learn all the things you know – all the roads lead us back to the ocean”.
Lead single ‘Wake Me Up’ delivers that same spirit like a spicy tequila shot – all funk, fury and fire-breathing defiance as an ode to getting away and losing your shit. The synthy disco of ‘2am’ takes us to those lost twilight hours after the club (“I’ve gone and lost my friends, but I can’t sleep alone again”) before the robo-Chic ‘Random Access Memories’ sounds of ‘2001’ drop us off at Brighton beach for some summer naughtiness and illicit substances to get “lost in a sugar rush” and a “violet high”.
The trio have the energy and the ideas for the party hat schtick to never wear thin. The verses of ‘Looking High’ come loaded with some shoulder padded ‘80s jam power before a euphoric release in the chorus, there’s a Prince-meets-synthy-new-wave playfulness to ‘Under The Radar’ while ‘The Sound’ takes the choppy charm of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Pow Pow’ and reduces it into a simpler, sugar-coated pill. There’s time to step off the floor and lean on the bar too, mind. ‘Flutter’ is nice a little breather that flexes the band’s impressive psych swagger, while ‘Crest Of The Wave’ is that second life morning ciggy on the beach, taking stock of the riots and romance from the night before
Closer and album highlight ‘Wild Green’ is the banger most destined for that bridge between “tonight has been fine I guess” and “this is getting silly now” at your next indie club night. Like New Order and Hot Chip at their best, it blends a Balearic mood with a mighty tension and release, all while keeping Foals’ idiosyncratic dance-rock dynamics intact. It’s one of those gems you can’t imagine getting a big dance remix because it’s already there, completing an album to be filed alongside Primal Scream‘s ‘Screamadelica’, New Order’s ‘Technique’ and LCD’s ‘Sound Of Silver’ as one of those records that makes you move, but with no cheap thrills.
There are no meaty rockers like ‘Inhaler’ or ‘What Went Down’, or slow and sprawling mini epics like ‘Spanish Sahara’, ‘Late Night’ or ‘Neptune’, but we need something else right now. As Philippakis said himself in that January interview: “This has the potential to be an iconic year, and I’d love this record to be the soundtrack to that – to be there for that house party, that barbecue, that drive to the ocean, when the face masks are a distant memory and it’s just you hugging your mates in the middle of a field.”
Lord knows we’ve needed this. You’ll feel the love if you catch them headlining The Other Stage on the Friday night of next weekend’s Glastonbury, or if you just let this record into your life for a lost sun-soaked hour in the park: Foals are still peaking, so let’s come up together.
Release date: June 17
Record label: Warner/ADA