Album reviewsMusic

New album reviews: Foals, Beach House, The Weeknd & more

1 September, 2015 — by Christopher Ratcliff4

Foals what went down album cover

Think of this not just as a regular round-up of all the new album releases from the week, but also a regular catch-up between you the reader and us the website. A place where we can come out from behind the curtain and say “hey, how are you? How’s your week been?” and you can reply “oh my fucking Christ what were you doing behind my curtain!? Get the fuck out of here you sick creepo!” Leaving us with no other option but to leave your house and shout the following reviews through your letterbox until you call the police.

Foals – What Went Down

Foals are never going to make a bad album, however they do seem to be releasing less and less interesting ones. What Went Down is their fourth in seven years, and although it’s certainly more consistent than previous album Holy Fire it doesn’t reach the furious ‘wind-up and release’ of ‘Inhaler’ or the outright pop joy of ‘My Number’, and we’re definitely a long way from the intricate (dubious music genre alert!) math-rock fanciness of their earliest singles. Nobody’s asking them to stay rooted in a now dated sound, but ‘Cassius’ was a slam-dancing masterpiece and it would be nice to hear them top it every so often. Oddly What Went Down follows almost the same template as Holy Fire: gruffly energetic opener which promises much in the way of exhilaration but is followed by a disappointingly bland collection of Foals-lite ballads and overly familiar funky shuffles. I think I’d like it more if I had a shorter memory or didn’t think Foals were capable of much, much better. 7/10

foals band
“I have to stay out here until I learn that electricity sockets are not toys”


It wasn’t too long ago that The Weeknd was an anonymous sexual predator, uploading mix-tapes to the internet full of intriguingly leftfield samples and dark tales of oxycodone fuelled encounters with attractive strangers in surprisingly lavish bathroom stalls. He was a pan-sexual danger to anyone with an open ear or a drink left unattended, and was therefore nothing to be lauded by the mainstream. Three years later he’s hanging out with Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Stevie Wonder is singing his latest hit ‘I Can’t Feel My Face (Because of All the Cocaine I’ve Had, Do You Get Me?)’ during his live shows. It’s a bizarre trajectory, one that’s only paralleled by Bret Easton Ellis being asked to write a new sequel to The Jolly Postman. Mistr Weeknd’s second proper studio album is a fairly dull affair, that replaces all the grim, mascara stained exercises in self-loathing with a duet featuring Ed Sheeran. Awful, obviously. 3/10

the weeknd
“Fuuuuuck, Shoe Zone’s shut”

Destroyer – Poison Season

Dan Bejar’s idiosyncratic vocals are part lounge singer, part 70s David Bowie attempting rap music for the first time, and this has certainly been an acquired taste over 11 albums of varying degrees of quality. However on 2011’s gorgeous and mainstream accepted Kaputt, Bejar found the perfect backing for his oddball delivery. The louche saxophone, lazy percussion and hangdog atmospherics of Kaputt brought to mind the hazy, pot-addled groove of Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, if The Long Goodbye was the filmic equivalent of glamorous yet quietly sordid yacht rock. Poison Season carries on this sumptuous, yet seamy trajectory but adding a Bruce Springsteen pomp, some beautifully arranged strings and the odd bit of Blaxploitation syncopation. The whole thing sounds incredibly lush and expensive, like a decades old Broadway show brought out of time to the present and given total control to an overly romantic lunatic. It’s nothing less than terrific. 8/10

destroyer band
“I think I will have the Family Bucket”

Deradoorian – The Expanding Flower Planet

Angel Deradoorian not only has the most unlikely name in all of alternative LA pop music, but also the one that’s the most fun to try and pronounce. There is no way that the current permutation I have cycling through my brain is in any way correct, but it’s a fun thing to think about while the hypnagogic rhythms of the former Dirty Projectors bassist take me off into a world of timeless grooves and Middle Eastern transcendence. Yes there’s a threat of it becoming a bit ‘I turned hippy just for my gap-year’, but it manages to balance experimental artfulness with taut psychedelic pop to remain never less than intoxicating. Plus some of it sounds like it came straight out of The Wicker Man. 8/10

deradoorian with cup of tea
What else would you wear while drinking knight-time tea?

Beach House – Depression Cherry

Apparently drowning is quite a relaxing, if not an almost pleasurable way to die. I imagine it’s not far off the audio equivalent of listening to Beach House’s fifth album Depression Cherry. It’s not something I would choose to experience, and there are many things I’d rather do than listen to a Beach House album or drown to death, but if I have to go through with it, it might as well offer absolutely no surprises and lull me into a blissful, never-ending sleep. 7/10

Beach House pictured with dilapidated municipal building. A vetoed early band name.

Check out all the latest music releases in our new album reviews section, including Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls.


  • Herrhuld

    1 September, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I have listened to the new Foals single a lot on the radio. I don’t understand why the lyrics (below) are sang with so much passion. They don’t mean much on the face of it nor do they have some ambiguous power (there are no living things in the lyrics – just gates, brakes, mountains, etc.). So it sounds like someone is just pretending to be a poet or in a band and doesn’t really have much to say.

    I’m watching Mad Men at the moment and holding song lyrics to the same standard as ’60s ad copy often leaves me disappointed. Lyrics are quite important to my enjoyment of popular music.

    [Verse 1]
    I see a mountain at my gates
    I see it more and more each day
    What I give, it takes away
    Whether I go or when I stay

    [Verse 2]
    I see a mountain at my gates
    I see it more and more each day
    I see a fire out by the lake
    I’ll drive my car without the brakes

    [Verse 3]
    I see a mountain in my way
    It’s looming larger by the day
    I see a darkness in my fate
    I’ll drive my car without the brakes

    Oh, gimme some time
    Show me the foothold from which I can climb
    Yeah, when I feel low
    You show me a signpost for where I should go

    • Christopher Ratcliff

      1 September, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      You’ve never had a mountain at your gates before?

      Yeah… they’re shit.

      • Joachim Farncombe

        1 September, 2015 at 4:35 pm

        How many years before Foals play Lodestar?

        • Christopher Ratcliff

          1 September, 2015 at 4:39 pm

          Exactly 12 months after their next poorly performing album… So summer 2018.

          Which is the year after Two Door Cinema Club headline and one year before Everything Everything.

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