Review: Foals

7 out of 10: Leeds, Sunday, 3.40pm. Better than many contemporaries, but not as good as they think.

Stage: Leeds, Carling stage

Time: Sunday, 3.40pm

Dress code: Tight Ts, tighter jeans and combed fringes. The keyboardist does everyone a favour by sporting some shorts he must have stolen from a public schoolboy.

In summary: Foals, a five-piece who met while studying at Oxford, were on our podcast this week, and had some harsh words for what they see as the mediocre quality of their contemporaries. Not having released an album yet themselves, however, the quality of their own music is still unclear to most. This set went some way to lifting the mists.

Highlight: Hummer is the best-known Foals song, and gets the biggest applause from the crowd - which grew throughout the set in both size and appreciation. All Talking Heads guitar-picking and driven funk rhythms, it's a great tune. Foals must like it too, as a fair percentage of the rest of their material doesn't sound entirely dissimilar.

Better than: a lot of their contemporaries, as they promised. Their songs are filled with clever harmonies and thumping crescendos. They're happy both to play with a song's format - breaking their first song into an instrumental just half way through the opening verse - and with liberal instrumentation. A good third of the songs have barely any vocals.

Worse than: they think they are. Foals do have a distinct sound, which can reach parody when the jangly guitars drift in over a bassline you've heard on a Wire track someplace.

Talking point: The band's stage act is to play in a circle, all facing each other. They then break out, almost in turn, into jerky paroxysms on their respective instruments. It's the kind of performance that could have been designed by algorhythm.

Where there'll be next year: Foals are definitely attracting fans. Will their album help them up to a bigger stage in 12 months?

Marks out of 10: 7


Paul MacInnes

The GuardianTramp

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