Everyone’s favorite Oxford dropouts are back. Foals’ third studio album, “Holy Fire,” continues to embody England’s youth culture in a collection of aggressive and romantic dance rock tracks.
With “Holy Fire,” Foals has made subtle alterations to its sound. The album has less math rock than the band’s 2008 debut, “Antidotes,” but it introduces a dynamic foundation of disco pop rock that occasionally delves deeper with songs like “Providence.”
Following its “Prelude,” the album begins forcefully with “Inhaler,” employing hard rock riffs and a gritty beat that give way to the harsh yet ethereal upper registers of lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ voice.
After “Inhaler,” the album softens with “Bad Habit” and “Late Night,” adding more soothing rock-influenced disco musings with straightforward chord changes reminiscent of early Bloc Party dance rock. While the results are not bad, they explore territory already covered by the band’s second album, “Total Life Forever.”
What really attracts one’s attention is the latter half of the record, at which point Foals truly begins to acknowledge their variety of styles. “Out of the Woods” sounds like the lovechild of Madonna’s ’80s synths and Led Zeppelin’s heavy guitars, while the beat of “Milk and Black Spiders” beneath Philippakis’ chorus enhances the song’s gradual buildup. “Providence” is the simplest song on “Holy Fire” in structure, but the lyrical repetition combined with tension of the time signature makes it the album’s most gripping track.
While Foals certainly maintain their established sound, the band is gradually expanding its boundaries beyond its math rock origins. The band’s members may not garner much new attention with “Holy Fire,” but their status in the music world remains intact.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 12 print edition. Patrick Jaojoco is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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