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What Went Down (Deluxe)

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Album Review

After the international chart success of 2013's Holy Fire, Foals officially embrace that album's rich, atmospheric post-punk revivalism over the rawer math rock tendencies of earlier LPs for their fourth full-length, What Went Down. Only ghostly traces of math rock remain on the album, such as when sustained synths wash over interlocking drum-guitar meters on the closer, "A Knife in the Ocean." The majority of the record avoids any prior levels of intricacy, opting instead for intense airiness in the form of passionate, danceable ruminations. Above all, the album is driving; even at relatively sleepier moments, drums kick in as if on cue and set any lost momentum back on track ("Give It All"). Vocalist Yannis Philippakis pushes his voice harder than ever before here, both in terms of range and strain, and his ability to at times resonate like Ian Curtis and soar like Bono is no small feat. The sparkling, rockin' title-track opener introduces his yowl with a clamoring swagger throughout the instrumentation, and with lyrics like "I buried my guilt in a pit in the sound/With the rust and the vultures and the trash downtown." Also vigorous, the particularly post-punky, Motorik "Snake Oil" later plows straight into the lighter but rhythmically locomotive-like "Night Swimmers." There are calmer moments, like the slower, more spare "London Thunder ("I'm on the red-eye flight to nowhere good"), but the album's intensity and pulse remain. Ultimately, What Went Down should please fans of Holy Fire, and they may not be the only ones drawn to its gloomy and persistent energy. [What Went Down was also released with a bonus DVD.]

Customer Reviews

Best Band Around

When I think of groups like The Police or Incubus or Rush I think of bands that have staying power. The ability to write songs with depth. Foals is a band that will be with us for awhile. I saw them live four times on the Holy Water tour and it just kept getting better. I’m completely excited for the rest of this album.

A brilliant addition to the Foals collection

Foals has been my favorite band ever since I first heard Hummer on a Pandora station in 2010, and they’ve never failed to surprise me with their new albums. What Went Down continues the bands evolution towards a harder, heavy rock sound than the alternative, jumpy, and math rock feel of Antidotes, and parts of Total Life Forever.

The album kicks off with the explosive What Went Down, and is immediately followed by the more mellow and melodic sounds of Mountain At My Gates, which is a good thing, because 2 songs with the pace and power of What Went Down in a row would have you wanting to punch holes through walls or throw chairs in coffee shops just to incite a riot.

Birch Tree is the beginning of the album’s lyric centric middle, where Yannis explores different sound ranges, all while sticking to a central and poetic theme that I’ll let you discover when you listen to the whole album.

Give It All and Albatross have a similar build up to Mountain At My Gates, followed by the biting and slightly animalistic tones of Snake Oil. Night Swimmers is a brilliantly blended song that, to me, is the epitome of the bands evolution, encompassing both an alternative sound at the beginning that builds into a powerful guitar riff typical of heavier rock towards the end.

London Thunder keeps a steady pace and feel throughout it’s entire 4:14 runtime, and Lonely Hunter builds into a stronger chorus in a delightfully parabolic motion. This album is rounded off by the slow burner that I’ve come to love from Foals. A Knife In the Ocean has a far less anxious build up than Spanish Sahara because of it’s heavier and scaled guitar riffs, but it’s equally as satisfying.

All in all, this album is an easy 10/10. It’s as good as alternative and rock gets these days. Foals has done it again, and I couldn’t be happier. Well done boys, well done.

So Far, So Good, So Foals

The first two releases from the record - 'What Went Down' & 'Mountains at My Gates' - are exactly what you’d expect from Foals - decidedly original, hard-hitting, yet refined rock & roll that is rooted in the traditional guitar, bass, drums, & keyboard setup, but clearly draws influence from their eclectic backgrounds (see their Tapes release for more study here). It’s my opinion that when all is said and done, Foals will be looked back on as one of the most important and influential bands of the decade. They certainly show no signs of slowing down, thankfully having had their near meltdown whilst making ‘Total Life Forever’ and learning the lessons needed from that session to endure for some time to come.


Formed: 2005 in Oxford, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in Oxford, England, by longtime friends Yannis Philippakis (guitar) and Jack Bevan (drums), along with Andrew Mears on vocals, guitarist Jimmy Smith, and bassist Walter Gervers, Foals -- whose name is a play on the etymology of Philippakis' name -- began as a way to protest against the proggier sounds that were both popular in Oxford and in Philippakis and Bevan's former band, the Edmund Fitzgerald. After releasing the single "Try This on Your Piano" in 2006, Mears left Foals in order to more...
Full Bio
What Went Down (Deluxe), Foals
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