Track by Track is a new music feature in which we give an artist the opportunity to dive into each song on their latest album, one by one.
Foals return today with their new album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1. Serving as the follow-up to 2015’s What Went Down, the 10-track LP can be streamed below via Apple Music and Spotify.
As its name implies, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 is the first of two companion LPs, with Part 2 expected in the fall. Produced by the band themselves, the records serve as two separate but related efforts instead of a split double-album. The material also marks Foals’ first music since founding bassist Walter Gervers departed in 2018.
Explaining their decision to create two separate records, frontman Yannis Philippakis told Consequence of Sound,
“Largely the songs that had more of an emphasis on rhythms and textures kind of pooled together on this album and some of the heavier tracks that kind of build off of our live energy tended to fall into the second album category, it’s own kind of shade to it. And then there was more detailed work in the internal sequence of the record, so Everything Not Saved Will be Lost — Part 1 ends in a place where almost, to us, it felt like a cliffhanger. It felt like the end of a movie, and album two starts with a response. It starts with a bang, basically, that goes against the mood that’s left on the first record.”
You can catch Foals performing the new tunes on their spring and summer tour, which includes stops at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival; The Netherlands’ Down the Rabbit Hole; and Lollapaloozas in Argentina, Chile, and Brasil. You can get tickets to their non-festival dates here.
Foals’ past releases are available on vinyl and other formats here.
To dig deeper into the story and themes on Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, Philippakis has broken the album down Track by Track.
I like records where there’s an opening of a space. You feel like you’re going through a wormhole, you’re going through a warp or it’s one of those old, cheesy TV effects from the ’60s where the picture wobbles and you know you’re into this alternate place. I think that this idea of making a record that has a define sense of place to it was important; it’s a very linked landscape. With that track, I just wanted it to be like a cleanser you go into it. The lyrics infer this idea of moving from the past into the future and it felt like the right way to start the record.
It was one of the first things that we wrote. I had just been messing around with my lute pedal in my house and I’d been listening to this Bulgarian choral record and I was chopping it up and it felt fresh to us, like something we hadn’t done before. I think maybe having that kernel of the idea at that early stage helped us, propelled us to make tracks that were more textural and lead by the synths.
It’s a very visual song. I had a clear picture I wanted to describe in the lyrics, which was essentially this view of humanity being able to live in a surreal way underground in bunkers, an ant colony type situation. It wasn’t necessarily meant to be super bleak; I also felt like it had a playful element to it, of the flowers growing upside down, and I was attracted to this place I saw the song inhabiting. There’s obviously a reason people are hiding out underground, and it’s because there’s hostile or threatening forces above ground. Part of the reason we put it out first is it ties up a lot of the different narrative themes through the record on this one song. The opening lines have to do with climate change and climate change deniers, and then there’s surveillance aspects later on in the song. Also, when I think about the record, I think about labyrinths and mazes and I feel like they’re symbolic of the confusion of the time and how it’s difficult to find a rational way through. So, all of that was basically swirling around in the song for me.
Lyrically, it’s the logical response to this feeling of being caught in a bind and there’s references to mazes and cages. Again, it’s like this labyrinth, this issue of how to find the correct way out. It’s probably one of the simplest songs we’ve written for a while. I felt like when we were playing it in the room, it was harking back to some of our earlier songs in a way, in terms of the drive of it and the rhythm. It’s one of my favorite songs on the record and I’m pretty excited to play it live. It’s one of those songs where when we were doing it, we knew it was gonna translate into the live space really well.
To us, it definitely feels like the clearest distillation of a dance track. We’ve kind of flirted with dance rhythms before, but there’s always been a heavy presence of live instrumentation. On this one, there was an itch to scratch to fully do something that we felt that was a distillation of that.
Lyrically, I was attracted to this idea of having a contrast between a song that’s talking about a lack of meaningful human communication, but also knowing a dance track inevitably brings people together in physical environments where people dance and have a good time. This song kind of became like a trojan horse, where its message is kind of is to do with being isolated in a way where it’s a contrast with the way it will be listened to.
The lyrics become slightly more personal. It’s a mode of expression in a way; there’s some lines about my parents in it and a desire to escape, basically. The second half of it definitely is set in London; it’s Victorian railway arches, it’s foxes at night walking around, and the fact that the urban centers in a lot of the world and certainly in London, the experiences in cities is changing. There’s no record shops anymore, there’s no bookshops anymore, and people are being replaced by AI. This feeling of the environment becoming neutered and depopulated, and how as a kid being excited about living in a city and now feeling like the best days are behind, in a way.
I only moved to London five years ago. It’s a great city. I love living there. It’s still an amazing thing to be living in these cities. Sometimes when I was walking back from the studio at night, literally you only see fox. There’s loads of foxes in London. There’s just something kind of macabre about it. I live near some Victorian arches and there’s something about thinking about Britain’s glory days where they pumped out all of these Victorian buildings in the center of the world, and now it’s like kind of crappy. And only the foxes are there.
“On the Luna”:
I felt like, in the same way that I’ve allowed other political themes in, Trump’s the overriding symbol of the wider political turmoil. For example, I didn’t mention Brexit by name, but Brexit makes up part of the fabric of the kind of landscape of the record, subliminally even. I felt like that didn’t even need to be named, but Trump needed to be named because the song is dealing with the repetition of seeing him and then it becomes like a kind of meta gag — the continual presence of him, so why not also have him in a song?
Also, he’s a shortcut to saying something else. What I’m really trying to say in that line is about the paradox between being observers and passivity. This idea that we’re horrified, but we’re also hugely enthralled in a strange way, we’re spectators. And then there’s this question about action and inaction, and he’s just a shortcut in a way of saying like, we watch all of this stuff happen and we watch it all day and we’re kind of glued to it.
It’s that sense of wanting to be excited. I feel generally attracted to whatever we haven’t just done. We kind of repel away from whatever came before. I feel like the DNA of the band in a lot of way is like these repeated loopy patterns, usually on the guitar. When we made Antidotes, it became a signature, but it was also a kind of prison. We had set up these constraints, basically. So a lot of the desire of the band after that was to widen the sound and to breakaway. I think it’s fair to say [we did that] on this record, maybe partly because we weren’t working with a producer. It’s like the DNA of it, we’re putting it at the forefront of the songs more. So something like “Cafe”, I’d started to record and I had learned how to use some music software for the first time, so I was working on little loops and things and often those initial loops actually have made it onto the final version of the album. Some of it has been not working with a producer allows it to be a more concentrated vision of us. It’s not diluted by other people’s opinions.
There’s a song on Part 2 called “Into the Surf”. When we were making the “Exits” video, I wanted to make these kind of teaser vids. So I went through both albums and extracted layers of sound from the songs, and with that one we just kind of fell in love with it.
We spent a lot of time thinking about the journey and the flow and it felt like there was something missing. There was something that was just like that last ingredient wasn’t there in the record and we needed help transitioning between certain songs. We felt like there was just something out of proportion about the way it was, so I tried putting that in at various points. When I slotted it in after “Cafe”, it just felt right. I liked the fact that it’s alluding to what’s to come on album two and when you get to album two, you hear it refashioned in a song. As a music fan, that would be the kind of thing that makes me go, “Well, that’s cool,” as a nerdy thing. We just felt that it was pretty and it deserved it’s own moment.
There’s this feeling of being abandoned by previous generations who promised us so much. It kind of, in my mind, tied back in with the Victorian railway arches in the sense of this past achievement from generation to generation. Our ancestors built up, progressed and built civilizations and they built amazing cities. And now at the point of precipice where we’re kind of in a perilous situation in many ways socially and environmentally, they’re not around to help. And we’re not adults. Sometimes I’m just like, where are all the adults? Even the old people, they’re like wearing sneakers and it’s like they’re just older kids, they’re not adults. It’s this kind of feeling of like, resentment. Like, why have we been left in this situation?
“I’m Done with the World (& It’s Done with Me)”:
The song was written early on. It felt like it came from a different place. Jimmy [Smith] sent me the chords, it was before we had written much of the material. I was hungover and it was an autumn day and I was looking out into my garden and all the trees were turning color. There was a fox in the garden that was wounded. I felt really bad for it, and I ended up feeding it for a couple of days. It basically couldn’t move. I went into the studio and he had sent me these chords and I just felt super tender. All of those lyrics came out in one go; I didn’t really even write them in a way. They just came out kind of flippantly in a sense. But it’s only in slotting it into the body of the record where I feel like it’s the perfect completion to the album. It wasn’t by design. It preceded most of the rest of the record.
That day was a very vivid day for me when I went in and wrote that. The fox hung around for a few days and then it disappeared. I called the RHPCA, which is the UK animal welfare, and they were like, “Feed it, see what happens.” But I don’t know what happened to it. So if the fox is listening, this one’s for you.