Foals – Total Life Forever
There’s an elephant in the room, and it’s named ‘Spanish Sahara‘. This is the name of the first single released from the second Foals album, Total Life Forever, and it’s a heart-melter. It’s all the more remarkable considering that this British quintet’s first release, 2008′s Antidotes, was characterised by dancefloor-ready beats, an abundance of needly hammer-on, pull-off riffs and an affinity with the sub-genre of ‘math rock’.
‘Spanish Sahara’ sits in the album’s centre; in turn, it forms the beating heart of Foals’ revised artistic direction. In stark contrast to their previously-accessible singles, the epic song’s payoff occurs over halfway into its seven minutes. Singer Yannis Philippakis urges listeners – and himself, perhaps – to “Forget the horror here / Leave it all down, here / It’s future rust, and then it’s future dust”, as the song slowly builds upon a sparse introduction to climax amid an ethereal lead guitar melody, thundering tom rolls and, ultimately, a somber, circular synth pattern. Though I’m loathe to draw parallels to a younger, less accomplished act, the song’s ascending arrangement can be charted in a similar manner to The Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition‘. Whether this song will scale those same dizzying heights of ubiquity – yes, unlikely – remains to be seen. But as an artistic statement, ‘Spanish Sahara’ is peerless among indie pop circa 2010.