Let’s be honest, guitar music does not matter anymore. Guitar bands are irrelevant. For a long time the most important, innovative and compelling work has been done by groups who eschew the six strings for the computer keys, so how is it that Foals, undoubtedly profiteers of the noughties indie -boom, have made without doubt the best album of the year. One word: progress. And not just progress for progress’ sake, they have made an album with big tunes that sounds fresh, harks to the past as well as staring the future unflinchingly in the eye. An album with songs on the radio as well as deep cuts that are truly fulfilling listens. Following on from their equally as progressive second album Total Life Forever, Foals have continued to throw off their pseudo-math-rock chains, obscuring their previously bouncy indie by numbers tunes for more textured and full sounds, songs that are not afraid to embrace earworm melodies and traditional pop structures. We all know how effortlessly catchy ‘My Number’ is and no one can deny the chemical reaction that occurs during the drop in ‘Inhaler’, but equally as good are album tracks such as the slow burner ‘Milk and Black Spiders’ and underrated single ‘Out of the Woods’. Cynics would counter this thesis by declaring that Holy Fire, whilst progressive, is still not as progressive as some of their contemporaries, like fellow Mercury award nominee and eventual winner James Blake, but really this is a tired concept in an age where everything has been done before. Everything. So what if Foals sound like their pushing towards being a stadium rock band, on the most pretentious of Pitchfork browsers would claim that writing songs meant to lift a few tens of thousands of people off the floor is a bad thing. The simple rule that music should follow, be good. And Holy Fire, from top to bottom is the goodest.
Album of the Year 2013: Holy Fire by Foals