‘Holy Fire’ gives Foals a bigger sound

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Alex LaSalle

The band Foals’ third album, “Holy Fire,” is their best and most accessible effort so far, coated with reverb and precise musicianship.

Still, it’s imperfect.

The Oxford, England band’s singer, Yannis Philippakis, has vocals sound like they were recorded on the far end of an abandoned hallway. Really, the whole album has a far-off sound with all the echo and reverb.

The entire album front to back is covered with clean, punchy guitars and sharp drums. The first track is an instrumental called “Prelude,” which covers Foals’ style as a whole on top of being a gradual build-up to “Inhaler.”

“Inhaler” is the album’s obvious highlight. It starts with more of those echoed guitars, funky drums and distant vocals before building into a massive, grunge guitar and synth riff. It’s a guitar riff for the age of loud, climactic dubstep drops.

The downside is that “Holy Fire” never really approaches that same build-to-climax again. The very next song is “My Number,” a funky danceable song about some girl not having his number. It’s just that: funky, danceable and nothing more.

The rest of the album, particularly “Everytime,” is at its strongest when Foals focuses on melodies and deeper sounds on the spectrum.

As a whole, “Holy Fire” is not an album for the impatient–only one song clocks in at less than four minutes. That attitude shows through the whole album. For every exploding chorus on “Inhaler,” there are five more melodies or rhythms that sort of meander off into nowhere.

Nothing on “Holy Fire” sounds bad, in the least. The weaker songs aren’t hard to listen to, but they don’t stand out as remarkable either. When Foals remembers that they are a guitar band and not a disco-funk dance band, it’s a solid album that could fit a stadium.

Standout tracks:

“Inhaler,” “Everytime”

Good if you like:

The Maccabees, TV on the Radio, driving through Atlanta at 3 a.m.

3.5/5 stars