Apr 092008
Authors: Nick Scheidies

Intro: Hailing from Oxford, England, the breakout indie-rock quintet Foals will inevitably be compared to Radiohead, with whom they share a hometown. But Foals’ brand of math rock is distinctly unique. They’re looking to make a name for themselves with their brand new debut album, “Antidotes.”

Pros: The defining feature of “Antidotes” is its clean, angular electric guitar riffs, but the record’s tightly woven sound is rounded out with synths, percolating percussion and even horns.

Meanwhile, singer Yannis Philippakis provides vocals that are as fun and quirky as his name. The album’s catchy, breezy nature belies its surprising depth.

Cons: But in all of this impeccable, synthetic musicianship, something gets lost: emotion. There’s none of the raw human energy that can make a song hit right at your core — a common problem with math rock.

It doesn’t help that a lack of variety in tempo and style eventually renders “Antidotes” a tad grating.

Definitive Track: Anchored by a simple, effective guitar melody, “Olympic Airwaves” is one of the most straightforward tracks on “Antidotes.” Still, the song builds up an unexpectedly frenzied head of steam before slipping into the final, dwindling chorus. Its minimalist lyrics are charming if nonsensical (the pre-chorus suggests building “an aviary for today.”)

Conclusion: Foals’ debut shows an immense amount of promise. Their taste for eccentric, meandering pop tunes makes “Antidotes” a riveting, invigorating record. But it’s a little bit too immaculate for its own good. Ultimately, the album lacks humanity.

Still, if you are looking for smart, well-crafted math rock, “Antidotes” will cure what ails you.

Entertainment writer Nick Scheidies can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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