When Foals arrived on to the British indie scene with ‘Hummer’ nearly 11 years ago, it was clear they were going to be a force to be reckoned with. Treble tones from guitars sat high on their chests created a new, unorthodox sort of funky. ‘Hummer’ featured on a skins episode which would see the hype begin for the most hotly anticipated debut of 2008.
On ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, frontman Yannis Philippakis joked about the album being ’40 minutes of solid drones’. As it would have it, the first track ‘The French Open’ begins with the sound of a drone. The second track on the album is cult favourite ‘Cassius’, which was neglected from the set list for five years before making its return on 2017’s festival circuit, much to the crowd’s delight. Track number eight is the roaring ‘Two Steps, Twice’, the first introduction to the style that foals have come to master, the art of creating a track that builds and builds before exploding. Critics argue that the continuation of this through their albums is Yannis clutching at familiar straws. This may be true, but why fix something that isn’t broken?
As the album progresses, the themes become more apparent. The standout themes for Antidotes appear to be dreams and escapism; evident particularly in the lyrics of Olympic Airways: “blow up these plane parades let’s go, to an aviary far from home”. Even some of the music videos for this album are surreal, dreamlike, but not nice dreams. The sort where you wake up feeling a bit odd and can’t quite concentrate for the rest of the day. The video for Cassius includes hearts hanging from what seems to be a mobile that a baby would have, not to mention the whole plethora of interpretive dance from Yannis.
The production on Antidotes helps to encapsulate its key themes. Producer Dave Sitek used more unorthodox techniques. Some of Jack Bevan’s drum tracks were recorded in an alleyway on a cassette recorder, and he had Yannis record lyrics whilst walking around the room. The whole album has a notable ambience. One which the band perhaps grew to dislike, as they would drop Dave Sitek on Total Life Forever.
Overall, Antidotes was a poignant record of it’s time, and set foals signature sound whilst also starting their steady climb to being one of the top bands in the country. With a 5th album in progress, I can’t wait to see what Foals do next.