Today’s Sounds: Foals

A great third record by England’s Foals, PLUS more British material in the form of the debut track by Toddla T’s new collective and a creepy video c/o Sean Nicholas Savage, who covers a classic ballad and kind of ruins it.


Foals, Holy Fire (Warner)

Some bands just sound better when they’re a little sloppy, and U.K.’s Foals are one of those bands. Holy Fire feels like a slightly botched classic — as if they strived to make the perfect rhythm pop record and fell just a little short. But it’s those edges that make Holy Fire, their third and grandest effort to date, an even more captivating listen.

As with their previous album, Total Life Forever, the quintet can jump into a rousing chorus when needed, but for the most part they appear more content to wade in the textures. It’s moonlit ocean, dancing-on-a-volcano interplay rock — funky and elegant but also vaguely menacing, mostly because the songs begin slowly, with matted tension, before eventually bursting into very deliberate chaos. The dual guitars are jittery, the rhythm section always keeps it danceable, and singer Yannis Philippakis’s voice cracks and misses in wonderfully strange ways.

Philippakis’s simple lyrics are equally baffling, as they’re usually pithy maxims that almost sound clichéd but somehow manage not to. He doesn’t use too many words, so the oft-repeated phrases stand out, like “With every time I see you, I want to sail away” from “Everytime,” or, from “Milk and Black Spiders,” “Cause I’ve been around two times/and found that you are the only thing I need.” The individual parts may seem silly by their lonesome, but when Foals hit their peaks — with their awkwardness, their funkiness and group vocals coming together — they can sound as big and dramatic as any band going.

They can also write killer pop tunes, and while nothing on Holy Fire matches the Kurzweil-meets-calypso brilliance of Total Life Forever’s title track, “My Number” is infectiously perky.

Foals play Club Soda on May 10.



Toddla T Sound, “Worst Enemy”

This is the debut single by the collective known as Toddla T Sound, led by British DJ/producer Toddla T (or Tom Bell) and featuring vocalists Shola Ama, Serocee and DRS. It’s out officially on March 25.



Sean Nicholas Savage, “Unchained”

We at Cult MTL, and more specifically the people behind Today’s Sounds, love Sean Nicholas Savage — there’s a reason why he recently got his own tribute album — but this video/song isn’t “good,” per se. The singing gets better and better as the track progresses, though, and the video, well. See it, believe it.

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