PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 May, 2010, 12:00am

Total Life Forever

When English quintet Foals released their debut album Antidotes in 2008 it received the kind of accolades new acts would lust after. Voluminous column centimetres have been devoted to the band since, especially to Yannis Philippakis, the learned young guitarist and frontman.

In the past two years Philippakis has come out with his fair share of pretentious statements, wishing to write a 'ballet with beats' the most famous of them. And the spikiness of the band saw them run through a series of producers for their second release before they settled on Luke Smith. Happily the drama in the making of Total Life Forever has produced a beguiling result.

Though more poppy than their debut, the album is hard to categorise, neither in the moment nor dated. Some of the tracks, such as After Glow, at more than six minutes, are long. This gives Philippakis time to explore, and After Glow moves from mournful intro to skittering crescendo.

The album is a wry look at people's obsession with preserving their youth, and Philippakis' voice, maligned in the past, takes on an emotional resonance, especially on tracks such as the elegiac Alabaster.

The chirpy title track combines Talking Heads-style vocals and hand claps, while Spanish Sahara's ephemeral vocals rise to an anthemic beat. Pop has never sounded so good.