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Foals: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1 — exciting possibilities swamped by sound

Foals: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1 — exciting possibilities swamped by sound

March 11
12:27 2019

One of the perils of music in this century has been “dynamic range compression”, in which records are mastered so that everything sounds as loud as everything else, with peaks and troughs levelled out, theoretically to make songs leap out of the radio. The fifth album from Foals (the first of a pair) sounds very much as though someone’s been compressing their dynamic range, with the result that a record that’s bursting with terrific ideas, great hooks and nagging melodies sounds like that bar you can’t wait to get away from because it’s too loud to talk.

Take “Sunday”, which opens with a gorgeous, restrained descending guitar line faintly reminiscent of the Velvet Underground, with singer Yannis Philippakis softly contemplating the end of the world: “Cities burn / We don’t give a damn / Cause we got all our friends right here.” And then come keyboards, in what’s less a wash than an entire floodplain.

It will doubtless sound amazing live, but through headphones sounds like a headache. It’s a recurrent problem: one can detect the exciting possibilities of songs like “White Onions”, with a terrific combination of a faintly west African hook and fuzzed guitars — there’s a feeling of euphoric explosion about it — but when it gets to the chorus, you’re struggling to pull apart the elements.

It’s a shame, because underneath the noise there’s a thrilling, Talking Heads-ish transglobal pop record here, in which dance, rock and world music combine. If only Foals had considered taking things away, rather than adding them.


Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1’ is released by Sony

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