Kicking off the A-side of the album (‘Total Life Forever’ is split into two sections, A & B), single-string guitar plucks bring ‘Blue Blood’ to life as Yannis croons over the top, the lyrics repeating “You’ve got blood on your hands/I think it’s my own”. And yeah, I did just use the word croon; Yannis ditches his anguished yelp, replacing it with something more soulful and melancholy. The judder of Foals’ rhythm section soon injects ‘Blue Blood’ with a tamed, taut groove, building suspensefully towards a climax of shrill guitar sparks and distant hollered vocals, but never quite taking off. ‘Blue Blood’ is all the better for it – sounds like Foals have learnt the control the math-rock beast.
WOWSER. ‘Miami’ is the big giveaway that Foals don’t wanna be tarred with the math-rock brush anymore (sorrrry!) – this has HIT written all over it. Their most straightforward song to date, it resembles Timbaland blinging up ‘Just Like Heaven’-era Cure, Yannis doing his best Robert Smith impression over a strutting bass groove. You better get used to the chorus – “Would you be there/be there/be there for me?” – because it’s going to own this summer’s festivals. ‘Miami’ is Foalsreworking their angular template to fit a big massive pop song – it doesn’t only work, it’s fucking ace.
‘Total Life Forever’
Starting off with an almost-indie guitar riff (against the relative militant guitar-play of their first album, anyway), ‘Total Life Forever’’s title track is led by a choral howl of voices. A stark contrast to the stark lone-voiced vocals of their debut, the vocals sound warm and campfire-esque – and also perhaps a nod towards their tour buddies Dananananaykroyd, regular users of the “EVERYONE SING ALONG!” technique. “This total life forever will never be enough, no” goes the repeated mantra that the song glides around. An album track, but a brilliant one at that.
‘Black Gold’ glides on a muted, percussive groove over which Yannis’ croon (there it is again!) sings “Top of the world/Bottom of the ocean” before a synthy, slow-paced chorus lends it an atmospheric, soundscape-y edge. After the second chorus comes an expansive, epic build-up and an outro that’s beautiful and heart-warming. If they sometimes sounded like hellbent, and uber-talented, robots on their debut, then here they sound human, the music imbued with a warmth that wasn’t present before.‘Black Gold’ is stadium rock, circa 2056.
Not really worth writing too much on this given they’ve already released it (YEAH – NICE ONE FOR RUINING MY FIRST LISTEN, FOALS!), but it’s probably worth saying, in the context of the album, ‘Spanish Sahara’ is both ‘Total Life Forever’’s slowest-burner and starkest opening and, in the jittery sonic-strobes of its second half take-off, probably the closest they come to replicating the math-rock mechanics of‘Antidotes’. Yannis’ vocals, which, for the most part, are a desperate falsetto, bring the whole thing to a euphoric, surging climax.
Like ‘Miami’, ‘This Orient’ sees Foals flex their newly-found FM pop-hook muscles. Starting off with eastern-tinged synth bleeps, ‘This Orient’ soon erupts into a stompy Arcade Fire-esque singalong, its chorus chanting “It’s your heart that gives you this western feeling/Do you know, you give me this western feeling?” over and over, each chorus leaving a big fucking indelible mark on the brain. An adrenaline-veined, gloriously-executed pop song.
45-second broken-piano instrumental ‘Fugue’ acts as a bridge between the two sections of the album, its soporific atmospherica an indication, perhaps, that the B side of ‘Total Life Forever’ will head down more reverbed, reflective path…
It seems that way with the mid-paced opening of ‘After Glow’, with its arpeggio’d, delayed guitars and stop-start drums. A solemn, almost-spoken word chorus of “Get up/Don’t forget everything you care for/For it will be nothing more tomorrow” sounds tender and fools you into thinking the second half of ‘Total Life Forever’ will be all reflective, Battles-on-valium grandeur; then, in swoops a giant swarm of fuzz and octopus-limbed drumrolls as it segues into a futuristic, malevolent outro of effects-laden guitars, viciously-executed drum marches and swirling vocal harmonies. Stunning.
A plaintive, echoed guitar strum and rumbling wall of sound begin ‘Alabaster’, which again sees Yannis employ that falsetto. Pretty good at it he is, too. Instrumentation gently builds around the melancholic vocals, the second half adding an industrial, percussive thump, adding a venom to the otherwise glacial, serene chorus. Like‘Blue Blood’, ‘Alabaster’’s flawlessly-executed four minutes sound wonderfully restrained.
There’s an almost baggy-feel to the bliss-pop of ‘2 Trees’ as static guitars and bass spar over an early 90s drumbeat, with Yannis’ dreamy vocals lost in a shoegazey-whirl. The two-minute outro of reverbed guitars, stuttering samples and synths that sound like they’re going backwards brings ‘2 Trees’ to an astonishing climax.
Starting off with a similar eastern-tinged opening to ‘This Orient’ (and one that, for a sphincter-clenching nanosecond, sounds a little like Snow Patrol’’s ‘Chasing Cars’), ‘Total Life Forever’’s closer ‘What Remains’ might be the best thing Foalshave ever done. Again, there’s a hint of Robert Smith about Yannis as the band get on a slow, grinding groove around him. “I’ve been to the darkest place I know” goes the monumentally ace chorus, whilst a post-second chorus singalong invokes the best “whoa whoa whoas” this side of ‘With Or Without You’, before the final blast of the distorted, desolate chorus descends into a fuzzy, menacing riff finale, signalling an end to Foals’ thrilling, beautiful and brilliant second album."
By: Niall Doherty
So it appears the order of the website is the order of the tracklisting...like I said.