The song at #46 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the gorgeous anthem “Mountain At My Gates” by British alt-rock band Foals. They rank among my current favorite bands and I passionately love their distinctive sound, characterized by uniquely beautiful guitar work and lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ rich vocals that make their music instantly identifiable. The group was formed in Oxford, England in 2005, and their current line-up consists of the aforementioned Yannis Philippakis (I love that name!) who also plays lead guitar, drummer and percussionist Jack Bevan, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith and keyboardist Edwin Congreave. Their previous bassist Walter Gervers left the band in 2019 to pursue other interests.
From their stunning fourth album What Went Down, “Mountain At My Gates” was released as a single in July 2015. The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard Alternative chart in early 2016. The lyrics seem to address perseverance and overcoming life’s obstacles, although in a 2015 interview with NME, Philippakis said the lyrics just came to him spontaneously in the studio: “The central image – ‘I see a mountain at my gates’ was from me getting more interested in seeing what would come out lyrically where there wasn’t a pre-conceived idea. Normally I write voraciously in books and journals, then harvest a lot of that for the record. This, though, came out instantaneously in the room.”
I see a mountain at my gates
I see it more and more each day
And my desire wears a dark dress
But each day, I see you less
Oh, gimme some time
Show me the foothold from which I can climb
Yeah, when I feel low
You show me a signpost for where I should go
The dramatic and powerful instrumentals – highlighted by those beautiful guitars – are fantastic, and Philippakis’ fervent vocals smolder and soar to impassioned wails as the song builds to a climactic flourish, leaving me covered in chills every time I hear it.
The interesting video produced for the song is a spherical video filmed with a GoPro omnidirectional camera. You can rotate the imagery with your cursor.