Foals, "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost — Part 1" (Warner Bros.)
This year we are promised not just one Foals album, but two. And after listening to the first, we're very, very lucky indeed.
The U.K. indie-pop art rockers offer 10 new crackling tracks on "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost — Part 1," their first since the departure of bassist Walter Gervers.
While the band's last album, 2015's "What Went Down," veered toward Coldplay, this time they seem more Radiohead-ish, with more complexity, shards of distorted synth and a nightmarish vision of the world.
"Exits" is one of the standouts, a paranoid, post-apocalyptic pop-rock beauty ("The cities underground/The flowers upside down," frontman Yannis Philippakis sings). The gentle-sounding "Sunday" takes that theme and adds burning cities and birds singing about the end of the world.
"Syrups" is a psychedelic trip with a driving funk beat, squealing guitars and lyrics about robots and the devil. "On the Luna" is a terrific childhood memory rocker interrupted by the present ("Trump clogging up my computer") and frayed sonic edges.
Foals are their most Radiohead — both bands hail from the city of Oxford — on "Cafe D'Athens" (you'll swear Tom Yorke is singing.) And listen to "In Degrees" and applaud the insane mix of '80s new wave pop, house, rave and trip-hop that somehow works.
Like many Foals albums, "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost — Part 1" is top-heavy with great songs before petering out. (The 44-second instrumental "Surf, Pt. 1" may make more sense if there's a follow-up on the next album, but it seems like wasted time here).
The album ends — after all that fascinating exploration — with the simple, mournful piano dirge "I'm Done with the World (& It's Done with Me)." It's a real downer: Leaves are on fire, Philippakis is on his knees and it's raining. But there's one bright spot: In a few months, we'll get Part 2.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits