Described by the band as “two halves of the same locket”, Foals’ ambitious ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ project could well have set the band up for a fall in 2019. They could have fallen into self-indulgence or spread themselves far too thin in making two half-decent albums rather than one definitive record. Yet when ‘Part 1′ dropped in March, it became the most acclaimed album of their career. Could the first album be loaded with all the good stuff, and this follow-up with tracks that should have been left on the cutting room floor?
While ‘Part 1’ explored Foals’ new-wave tendencies, Part 2’ is more brutal and visceral. It’s noisier and gnarlier. Foals ended the last album with ‘Sunday’, telling us that “time has come and time is done” as “cities burn, and we’ve got youth to spend”. ‘Part 2’ opener ‘Red Desert’ brushes away the ash with an instrumental not dissimilar to the retro-futuristic Moog-work on Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange soundtrack, before the riffs kick in on ‘The Runner’ and we’re ready to rumble. For the sequel, it seems the band have found the resolve to charge through the embers of their imagined apocalypse, as frontman Yannis Philippakis promises: “While the years they come and go, I won’t let myself get slow.”
The first half of ‘Part 2’ shows little let-up. ‘Wash Off’ takes the band’s signature math-rock dance vibes and piles on the muscle and bravado with zero fucks given “because life’s a lie, so roll the die”. Further inhibitions are shed on the pure rock abandon of ‘Black Bull’; the paranoid cousin of past heavy singles ‘Inhaler’ and ‘What Went Down’, but from the ‘ard side of the family who grew up on the wrong side of town. ‘Like Lightning’ lays on some filthy blues for a sleaze-rock anthem to dusting yourself off and becoming something new, before the subtly tight-knit grooves of ‘Dreaming Of’ and the gentle piano-led amuse-bouche of ‘Ikaria’ start to lead the record towards its less frenetic – but no less bombastic – finale.
Album highlight ‘10,000 Feet’ showcases Philippakis in the fullest of voice as he coos, croons and howls about becoming one with nature after death. The band, meanwhile, navigate the sound through a prog rock mini-epic, only teasing the scale of the sound that follows with the sprawling, 10-minute closing odyssey of ‘Neptune’. The latter seems the natural successor to early Foals favourites ‘Red Sox Pugie’ and ‘Spanish Sahara’ as an engaging and essential hymn for post-millennial anxiety, albeit with a little more hope this time.
“Time brings low all good things, when you open your eyes,” sings Yannis towards the song’s end. ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part 2’ is certainly a band gazing upon the full horizon.
Not only a fittingly accomplished conclusion to their most adventurous and masterful project to date, ‘Part 2’ is also a thoroughbred belter of a record and utterly complete album in its own right. Add it all up and the ‘Everything Not Lost’ era is testament to all that Foals are capable of – in sound, in scope and in greatness.
Tune into NME Radio from 00.01AM on Friday October 18 t0 hear Foals’ exclusive track-by-track interview and guide through ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part 2‘.