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Unlike their last two albums, the Foals have come up with an album that does not require an explanation about its intentions. Ever since the Foals released “Antidotes”, their 2013 album, each new record that they have produced shows a high degree of maturation, musically speaking. The progress can be seen from their humble beginnings to making soundtracks for teen movies and now topping Britain’s most respectable music festivals. Overall, the Foals have achieved great progress over the last couple of years.
“What Went Down” presents a sound that is heavier than their previous albums. The Foals seem like they are picking up from where they left off in the year 2013 after they released “Holy Fire”. The band had decided to take time before coming up with their fourth album, but it seems they had a revelation and quickly returned to the studio after a long time touring. “What Went Down” is the real definition of sound progression in between albums. By listening to this album, one might be forgiven for calling the Foals cocky, this album shows that they have nothing left to prove. It is evident that they have developed from a young group of rock artists fighting for relevance to a musical force that is to be reckoned with, this is a statement supported by What Went Down, the opening title track.
The opening song is an aggressive track that combines pulsating drumbeats with erratic guitars that create a certain level of intensity. The vocals are full of dark imagery, for instance, I buried my heart in a hole in the ground, and this is followed up by a dense rhythmic sound that might make you think you have blown your sound system. In this track, their front man, Yannis Phillipakis, emerges vocally with lyrics that are almost indecipherable throughout the song’s chorus before climaxing to an abrupt end. The second song is “Mountain at the Gates” and the third being “Birch Tree”, the two songs have compelling hooks and are melodic to serve as a reminder of the Foals of previous years.
The fourth track “Give it all” is a slow burner: it is a soft emotional track with loose narratives that highlight the lead singer’s diminishing love. Albatross is a track that falls between cooling and heating, and it does not blow up as you would expect but remains on a knife’s edge. The lead singer’s vocals are lost in the instruments, and it seems like everything could collapse. “Snake oil” is intriguing and filled with yelping and groaning, this song leads the group to an abstract world where they are most comfortable. “Night Swimmers” has a certain level of urgency, reverb and high tempo to take the form of a dance track. “London Thunder” is more of poetry and “Knife in the Ocean” has delayed guitar notes and drum work to create a finale that is intriguing as the first track.
The album does not contain a standout track like their previous albums: it is a symbol of their earlier indie sound. It is their most daring record to date and cements the Foals as one of Britain’s best bands.