Foals is a five-piece group of youngsters hailing from Oxford, UK, and their music is constructed in just a way that they'll inevitably gain a ton of fans and a good portion of backlash at the same time. One could probably get away with calling it dance punk and be safe, but the group takes elements from a ton of different styles and mash it all together into this highly enjoyable debut release. There's lots of intricate high-fret guitar work and synths weaving around crisp beats, some horn blurts, chanting vocals, and the occasional digital trickery. The result is something that comes in between The Rapture, English Beat, and maybe even Battles, without sounding a great deal like any of them.
Lyrically, they're not going to blow anyone's minds, but that's not really the point here. Instead, they want to get people moving, and so short, yelped statements (sometimes straightforward, sometimes stream-of-consciousness) that are inspired by everything from tennis players to the advance of technology in our lives is the modus operandi. "The French Open" kicks things off, and after a rather slow broil of an opening, it really bursts forth during the second half, skipping delightfully with an almost skanking rhythm and some nice horn work. "Cassius" follows and might very well be the most sing-along song on the entire release, powering forward relentlessly with buzzing synths, horn stabs, thick guitar riffs, and some insanely catchy vocals.
Although the group certainly doesn't abandon their kinetic sound, they add some well-needed wrinkles in places to keep things interesting. Both "Red Socks Pugie" and "Big Big Love (Fig. 2)" explode flowering walls of electronics into the mix, making for some lovely crests of sounds that take the edges off their hyper-clean lines somewhat. In some places (as on the electronically-damaged "Tron" and the bonus track "Hummer"), the group presses themselves into an even more mechanical corner, and the results aren't quite as impressive. While it's true that the sheer precision of their playing is what makes some songs as great as they are, the organic touches of horns and textural washes of electronics help the group move into ground that hasn't been mined as much. An excellent debut, here's hoping that Foals embrace their more human side even more in the future.