Bear with me when I say that this album reminds me of a crusty sandwich.
That’s because the opening track, What Went Down, and closing track, A Knife In The Ocean, are very strong extremities, and in the middle lies Snake Oil, a meaty centre. Foals dropped an almighty grenade with opening single What Went Down, an utter bomb blast of a song, which has Yannis telling us that he’s a sycophantic animal when he seems about as sycophantic as a grizzly bear on short rations. These three tracks feel riddled with pent up aggression and edgyness. You’d think that a psychiatrist might peep over the brink of Yannis’s psyche and then, thinking twice about messing with that bag of tricks, take a step back. Snake Oil (“You sell snake oil to the butcher, the butcher’s bill must always be paid,” which makes you wonder what on earth has been going on amongst the carcasses) has a filthy deep driving bass line, reminding you of the rock anthems of the 70’s. It resonates with some of the darker elements of the human soul. A Knife In The Ocean is a searing completion to proceedings. It’s big.
All of which tends to make you wonder about what the other tracks amount to – are they making up time or truly adding a richness of tastes and textures? Mountain At My Gate is as close as we get to something conventionally catchy, building nicely to a rowdy conclusion, and London Thunder is evokes that atmospheric early morning feel of the empty echo at an airport. Birch Tree is a light airy offering and Albatross has an attractive tippy tippy drum opening. Inbetween the bicep bulging bare faced brutishness lies many a melodic moment, so yes, there’s a musically nutritional balance here.
If I’m honest I haven’t quite gelled with tracks like Give It All and Lonely Hunter. Maybe they are the slightly irrelevant iceberg lettuce garnish on the menu, but overall there’s little to complain about.