FOALS with ESBEN & THE WITCH at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Monday (September 27), 9 pm. SOLD OUT.
After touring their hyped debut album, Antidotes, in 2008, Oxford-based five-piece Foals pulled off what few of their indie rock contemporaries ever manage: improving on an already stellar formula.
Eleven weeks of a pad thai diet and 18-hour days recording in a live-in studio in Gothenburg, Sweden, produced Total Life Forever (Transgressive). It's a dazzling step forward that nudges their melodic, mathy dance punk in the direction of post-Kid A Radiohead and earned them a 2010 Mercury Prize nom. (They lost to The xx.)
Singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis admits he felt "content, if slightly crazed" upon emerging from the marathon sessions.
"It was tense at times, definitely," he says over the phone from Oxford. "Recording will always be [like that for us], because we actually like the combative aspect of making records. The conflict, the turmoil, the grit. The mood was totally bipolar, but I wouldn't like it without that."
One of the lyrical themes is paranoia about technology and the future, which Philippakis says was reinforced by reading Ray Kurzweil's books about spiritual machines and the prospect of a technological singularity.
"I find Kurzweil's ideas to be equal parts thrilling and terrifying," he says, stressing that Total Life Forever isn't a concept record. "I fear that a lot of what he says is eventually going to happen, that it's an ineluctable fate for humans to be preceded by their own creations. But I don't think it's going to happen in my lifetime."
For now, Philippakis and his Foals are focused on the here and now, which includes a North American tour he describes as "a mission" and work on album number three.