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Foals - 'This Orient'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:06 UK time, Saturday, 1 May 2010


I love it when musicians try really, really hard to make music which angular and awkward and gawky and strange, and they put their heart and soul into taking routes which are not only not well trodden, but which might not actually exist at all. I love this because it's a contrary impulse to the act of making music in the first place, which is to try and communicate with people, and I love it because sometimes, just sometimes, what they come back with is something which is massively accessible and (whisper it) actually quite poppy.

The Horrors are always good value in that respect. They talk a very confrontational kind of talk, they dare people to enjoy what they do, and yet what they actually do - the dressing up, the big yearning soundscapes, the pretty songs - is very loveable.

Foals, while never claiming to make deliberately difficult music, are another band who seem to happen upon their best ideas as if by accident, while looking for something else entirely.

(Here's the video. In which we are staring at startling starlings.)

'This Orient' feels like something which grew out of a sonic collage, probably called 'Disorient', and then renamed once the lyrics started to take shape. Samples of human voices chirrup among twinkling guitars, mooey whale noises waft in and out, things scrape against other things. The only people who seem to be bothered about making any sense out of it in terms of a song are the drummer and bassist, and Yannis the singer, of course. Everyone else is having far too much fun making a racket.

It's definitely a proper catchy pop song though. Yannis might have toned back on the yelping which made early Foals songs such an eye-opening delight, but this is all to the good. A bit of poise in the melee, a sense of quiet desperation, dispassionate passion, that kind of thing.

And again, even if dissonance is their aim, if challenge is their goal, they've structured this exactly like Taio Cruz would've done it. Lots of repetition of that chorus line, a few interesting bits and bobs here and there so it doesn't get wearing, paring things back for the verses, launching into bigger spaces for the choruses, and a sprinkle of fairydust to catch the ear of the floating voters.

Just imagine what astonishing feats they would be capable of, if they were really TRYING...

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: May 3rd
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)



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