Feb 22, 2013 Web Exclusive
Holy Fire is one of those records that could be succinctly summarized in five words: "This is a Foals album." Anyone familiar with their output since 2008 debut Antidotes will know exactly what it sounds like, with modulated synths combining with tremolated guitars (so much tremolo!) to sound a bit like all those bands whose albums Dave Sitek produced during his reign as King of Brooklyn circa 2008.
In fact, former collaborator Sitek could be what's missing from Holy Fire; after all, those TV on the Radio albums still sound crisp and exciting today, and that's exactly what this album doesn't do. The synths and guitars are low-key, obfuscating one another throughout to create a vaguely pleasant but anodyne sound that the listener is likely to forget while it's still playing. As a result the space between notes on the (deliberately) more low-key tracks such as "Bad Habit" or "Moon" don't give the record room to breathe, but rather add to the dragging nature of the songs.
Being a Foals record, the quality of the musicianship and the band's ear for a good sound save this from being an especially bad record. It is Foals-by-the-numbers, though, and the band's apparent lack of energy renders it cold and forgettable. There are odd high points: lead singer Yannis Philippakis attempts to force his voice through Flood and Alan Moulder's unhelpful production with a punkish snarl at the end of lead single "Inhaler," and the bubbling outro to "Milk & Black Spiders" leads into the furious guitar of "Providence." These could be seen as false dawns before the album concludes listlessly into nothing, or more likely the dying coughs of a band that used to be interesting. (http://www.foals.co.uk)
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10