I got Q and not U's No Kill Beep Beep LP in the mail* yesterday. Why that's relevant is because a) that album is awesome and b) it's my gold - well, okay, yellow - standard for quirky indie math-rock. Currently, Foals meet that standard; or at least, match up well against it.
The first time I saw or heard anything by this band was the video for 'Hummer' on David's not-updated-in-a-while blog, The Fate of the Human Carbine. Foals are a UK band, from Oxford specifically. Anyway, 'Hummer', while a decent enough song, left me thinking that they were not much more than a derivative, Q and not U style math-rock** band.
However, 'Cassius' is a far more impressive song, and over successive listens quickly forced me to re-evaluate my opinion of Foals. It's always nice when that happens, that you have to admit being wrong but also that you find a band you really like - at least in part.
Their other singles, 'Mathletics' (surprise, surprise) and 'Balloons' are quite good, with the video for 'Mathletics' in particular being well worth a viewing. And 'Hummer' was performed rather brilliantly on Skins, so Foals went even further up in my estimation, even if I don't think it's the most creative of their songs.
Their album, Antidotes, was released last week (on Sub Pop, in the States) and has been getting pretty good reviews. I've yet to hear it - and [as of time of writing] I've yet to pick up the 7" for this single, a stack of which are hiding behind some more current releases in HMV - but I'd say it'll be worth checking out. The press has been making a big deal out of the fact that they've left 'Mathletics and 'Hummer' off the record, like it's some big artistic statement. Personally I think it reflects in part that 'Cassius' and 'Balloons' are the stronger songs, but also that while singles are good for albums - like Ham Sandwich's Carry the Meek, which is entirely taken up with singles for its first five tracks - albums have to stand on their own as well.
Here's the video for 'Cassius'. I guess I should mention it has a saxophone and trumpet in it. It's not a central part of the song, but they do give some great colour to the mathy sound and there's a terrific free-jazz part at the end of the song. Happy body-popping!
* post. Blogging plays hell with your Hiberno-English.
** or more accurately, 'dance-punk', but that's a shit name. Battles = math-rock. Q and not U = math-rock. Battles ≠ Q and not U. [but Foals = Battles + Q and not U!] Such are the problems of life.