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Foals Antidotes Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Believe the hype, because there won't be a better British debut album this year.

Lou Thomas 2008

Hype is a double-edged sword. Bands, including this smart Oxford mob, sometimes complain that being endlessly praised early in their careers creates unrealistic expectations. But they also realise that being widely feted by critics helps attract new fans.

On this evidence Foals have nothing to worry about, hype or not. Antidotes is so far advanced of the UK indie pack it's as if frontman, Yannis Philippakis, and his bandmates are laughing at their contemporaries from outer space.Their mastery of tune construction is utterly surprising. It's all very well being clever and unexpected with changes of tempo and key changes, but to actually work this into songs that are anthemic and at times relentlessly funky is no mean feat.

A lot of this is owed to drummer, Jack Bevan. Balloons, for example, is underpinned by slowed down drum 'n' bass beats, joined by creeping horns and an insistent and fluid trebly guitar riff (a Foals trademark). The resulting infectious groove encourages unbridled dancing from every sentient listener.

At the heart of this band is set of pleasing contradictions. Aside from the unusual way they marry melodic sensibilities with avant garde percussive noises and riffs that’d be at home on a Battles record, there's the seriousness factor. Certainly the lyrical concerns, which Yannis said last year were often related to dreams and visual ideas, ostensibly centre around destruction and desertion.

In the extraordinary, sky-scraping Red Socks Pugie listeners hear of, ''Heartswells which make us explode'', before the nihilistic, ''Oh what the hell, we set it on fire''. In the reflective Olympic Airways, the idea is to ''disappear until tomorrow…if only we could move away from here''.

Thoughtful stuff, but when a band joke at industry shindigs about mugging The Hoosiers, you know they're up for a laugh, too.

There are many more reasons to love Antidotes from the clear influence of dance music throughout, to the way Like Swimming is a rare instrumental that is not only worthy of inclusion on an album, but actually merits more than its short length.

But what matters, aside from individual moments of excellence, is that Foals only real, current peers are truly great bands from abroad like Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend. Believe the hype, because there won't be a better British debut album this year.

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