Foals – What Went Down
What Went Down's title track makes no bones about Foal’s intentions for album number four – seething with a thundering, caustic might that makes the distant Cassius feel like candy floss in comparison. The group’s trademark intricate guitar work remains a dominant feature – Birch Tree and Night Swimmers exhibit a characteristic plinking interplay of notes – but elsewhere this is a record fleshed out by a glowering intensity.
The ferocity bubbles behind Yannis Philippakis’ snarled chorus in Mountain At My Gates, which builds into an insistent climax of pummeling drums and stratospheric fuzz. Snake Oil is where Foals flex their muscle and push into new territory, crafting a libidinous vehemence with bold, brassy bass runs and garage drumbeats, while curtain call A Knife In The Ocean is perhaps the album’s most ambitious moment; a yearning epic of distortion, feedback and echoed waves of guitar.
Foals' latest cleaves closely to the melodic narrative arc set by 2013’s pivotal Holy Fire, but sets itself subtly apart with its insidious, atmospheric chill. If Holy Fire saw the band glancing tentatively into the abyss, then What Went Down is the fulfilment of that trip to the dark side.