Review: Foals – What Went Down

By Declan Roberts (@DeclanMR)

Savageness isn’t a word you’d want affiliated with yourself, but Yannis and co. embrace that very nature on fourth album What Went Down. It isn’t until you hear all ten songs that you understand their desire to be so brutal. As they honed hard-hitting rock on Holy Fire, Foals have never looked back from the wilderness.

The title track opener is unforgiving to the eardrums as the battering ram cacophony of Oxford’s finest break down walls impossible to the normal man. These colossus bombs of noise seem like odes to the post-rock kings of Godspeed and This Will Destroy You. ‘Mountain At My Gates’ is just as powerful with Yannis’ beckoning us: “give me my voice / give me my choice / give me my light / to keep me coming around”.

The rest of side A is less damaging with ‘Birch Tree’, ‘Give It All’ and ‘Albatross’ all holding back the urge to roar. ‘Snake Oil’’s creeping vocals and booming drum beat have no mercy as Yannis destructively croons “you sell snake oil to the butcher”. A hint of ‘My Number’’s grooviness appears on ‘Night Swimmers’ with popping guitar and up-tempo snare hits.

Penultimate number ‘Lonely Hunter’ is What Went Down’s hidden gem with Yannis’ lyircs taking centre stage, naked without the reverb and other effects that usually enhance his voice: “Will i see you / when I’m stuck in foreign lands?”.

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