Foals’ Yannis Philippakis wasn’t kidding when he teased that Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2, the sequel to March’s Part 1, would start with a bang. Though it opens with ominous, atmospheric synths, it quickly transitions to “The Runner,” and two songs later, “Black Bull,” perhaps the two heaviest rock singles they’ve released since at least “What Went Down,” or perhaps all the way back to 2012’s “Inhaler.” Distorted and fuzzed out guitars send Philippakis’ voice soaring in the choruses on both, never reaching the heights of the aforementioned Holy Fire lead single, but coming quite close.
Part 1 had plenty of variety, particularly on the B-side—“On The Luna” is chock full of ’80s synth goodness, while album closer “I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me)” was the band’s first ever true piano ballad, a beautiful and melancholic way to wrap things up. But Part 2 does away with all of that, opting for a largely all-killer, no-filler fists-in-the-air rock album. Foals’ instincts to switch things up and incorporate slowed-down woozy synth ballads have led to some of their best songs (after six top 10 charting albums in the UK, “Spanish Sahara” is still likely their calling card). But Part 2 keeps the guitars pushed to 11 throughout, not stopping until “Into the Surf,” the record’s penultimate song.
Part 2 feels like a festival-ready, fan-servicing record packed with tracks ready to reach the upper rows of arenas across Europe, not unlike its Mercury Prize-nominated predecessor. So, as Zach Schonfeld put it in his review of Big Thief’s second album of 2019 Two Hands, do both albums deserve to exist?
Well, sort of. The record maintains a loud, uptempo mode throughout, but it loses steam halfway through. “Like Lightning” plays like a good-not-great Royal Blood track while “Dreaming Of” is essentially a lesser “On the Luna.” While “Into the Surf” invites trip-hop elements into their core sound, Part 1’s “Sunday” is more potent, utilizing sweeping synths to a fuller extent.
In fact, almost every track on Part 2 comes off as an ever-so-slightly inferior version of its Part 1 counterpart (though there’s nothing comparable to the dance-y “In Degrees” or the revved up “White Onions). But Part 2 has one something its predecessor didn’t: the 10-minute album closer “Neptune,” where the Oxford band jam out on a massive scale. It takes awhile to get going, but it’s impressive once it does. Foals have never allowed themselves this much space to let a song develop and build, and the results are spectacular. If they can find the space in their already jam-packed setlists, “Neptune” will be the live highlight for years to come, where it will likely produce some truly remarkable guitar noodling from Philippakis on a nightly basis.
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 doesn’t quite live up to the lofty benchmarks set by Part 1—or really any Foals record to date—but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to enjoy here. They’re of a one-track mind throughout, which can definitely make this record a bit of a slog to get through at times, but the peaks are just as high as anything the British rock band have released to date. Its predecessor is definitely a much better album as a whole, but Part 2 deserves to exist, if not for the sole reason that it’ll provide an added oomph to their eventual headlining festival sets for the foreseeable future.