Foal’s newest release What Went Down had promised a new, more diverse sound than their staple few laid back and catchy synth and keyboard driven tunes. While there is some insertion of more aggressive execution, most of the album sticks to the mellow nature that Foals knows best.
The first track (which also happens to be the title track) is bursting with energy – a cathartic explosion of noise and lighter keyboards and synths that had characterized Foals’ sound on their previous albums. Featuring a stripped down riff and catchy drumbeat, the track gets the album off to a great start. The sound doesn’t last, as the next track, “Mountain at my Gates” slips right back in to the synth and keyboard grooves that are more familiar to Foals fans. Hearing a song so aggressive from a band like Foals is jarring, but the band pulls it off admirably with lead singer Yannis Philippakis delivering a more intense vocal performance than normal.
After that, the album slips into the more laid back and synth-driven songs that Foals fans are more accustomed to – most notably illustrated by the song “Birch Tree”. The songs outside the title track are quintessentially Foals in their quiet, ambient nature.
With What Went Down, Foals deliver an album with one foot firmly entrenched in their usual style – laid back synth and keyboard driven songs, and another dancing with a more aggressive, minimalistic style. This shift points to a different direction in the band’s sound.