March’s Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1 offered us impending doom combined with immense energy. Foals’ most critically acclaimed album to date, it established a mammoth reputation for the second part to live up to, and now we’ve got our hands on it, Tom Poole is going to see if it does.
Gone are the subtle politics, and gone are fears of climate change. Gone – for the most – is the end-of-days narrative. Now, Foals offer us anguish, drama, and a boatload of guitars.
The Oxford four-piece gave ‘Black Bull’ as the lead single, promising us stadium-rock and yanking it away at the last second. It’s easily the heaviest track, dedicated to life on tour; “I gotta rip up the road”, Yannis bawls, somehow making such a clichéd line feel authentic.
The attempts at drama are less effective elsewhere. Namely, ‘Like Lightning’ is a convincing imitation of a cringier, faux-dramatic Imagine Dragons song, the kick drum notably replaced with clapping on the beat.
‘10,000 feet’ is a thoughtful, slow-march of a track, with pained vocals and a bit of a retro twang. Whilst album endings are often neglected, quite frankly the song marks the start of one of the best bookends to an album this decade. The end three cuts not only serve some of Foals’ best songs, but some of the best rock or indie we’ve seen in a while. The lyrics and themes get even more abstract here, with ‘Into the Surf’ giving absolutely gorgeous lines that make truly fuck-all sense.
“When I return there’s a moon pool on fire
Into the surf, again
There’s a moon pool in bloom”
‘Neptune’ alone accounts for a quarter of the album’s runtime, clocking in at 10 minutes. If other parts of Everything Not Saved have been geared towards more passive than active listening, here the entire stretched-out duration maintains your attention.
Did ENSWBL, Part 2 live up to the hype? It’s a little messy, and not even clear what Foals wanted to do here compared to the album’s older sister. Supposedly, the total 20 tracks of both parts were recorded in the same session – yet, I couldn’t see any from either being swapped. Standing alone, Everything Not Saved, Part 2 is a mostly incredible album, with such rewarding depths to offer on repeat listens.