Detroit. Willesden. Olympos, on the Greek island of Karpathos. "The inside of our skulls". These are the places that make up Holy Fire, Foals third album, their most direct and fully realised album yet. Foals have stepped up from, as Yannis puts it, "songs for indie clubs" to something much, much bigger. Their third album might not sound like Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails, but it has much of the same ambitious spirit and grandiose aesthetic that led to those groups touching the lives of millions. This is the sound of Foals arriving.

It's all a long way from the group's early years in Oxford, where Yannis Philippakis (26), Jack Bevan (27), Walter Gervers (28), Edwin Congreave (28) and Jimmy Smith (28) convened after spells in various well regarded bands such as The Edmund Fitzgerald, whose intricacies were a league away from the Libertines-influenced indie skiffle and American garage rock that dominated at the time. Debut album Antidotes (2004) attempted to capture the live energy and sense of spontaneity that had made Foals one of the most sought-after live acts in the UK. 2007 follow-up Total Life Forever was a surprise to many (Foals never sit still for long) dealing in more expansive, eloquent sounds and a more mellow feel inspired in part by Foals' long-time enthusiasm for weed. Now, as they approach their 30s, Foals are moving on from the "kind of lost boys club element to how we've lived for the past six years" to make their best music yet.

Animal Eyes

We grew up in a place where we had to drive 75 miles to get to the next town, and that town had a population of 4000. Five years old, looking out the car window for two hours. Wide open space, mountains across the ocean, mountains across the tundra. The tops touch the clouds, the sky isn't far away. Everything is bigger and older than four people in a four person subaru wagon. 18 years old, writing songs on a bluff overlooking the Alaska Range. The rivers run south through the mountains, towards the ocean.
Drinking beers by a bonfire and talking about playing music, about moving to Portland. 19 years old, getting in the car with the guitars, singing songs and driving south-bound down the Alcan highway.

There's something about growing up in a place that's so much bigger than any one person that gives you an appreciation for the grand scope of existence. And when it's night and there's five feet of snow outside and you and your friends are gathered around a cast iron stove in the middle of a yurt playing guitars, singing, and drinking beer, you learn what it means to be a warm-blooded human living with other warm-blooded humans in a small space surrounded by cold dark nothing for miles around.

And when you're young, out of school, and you've lived your whole life in the same small town in Alaska, you have to get the hell out and go see what's going on elsewhere. Like Portland. Where a bunch of your favorite bands are from. On top of that, a jazz bass player that used to play with Miles Davis tells you it's the place to be. And then you find out that four of your friends from Alaska are already moving down there, and you decide to start a band with them just to see what happens, and it turns out to be something you're truly excited about. At least that's what happened to us.

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