The subject for Day 26 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song by an artist whose voice you love“. This was another difficult category, as I love the singing voices of literally hundreds of artists, a few of whom I’ve already featured on this song challenge: Judy Garland, Chris Cornell, Karen Carpenter, Ray Charles and MISSIO’s Matthew Brue. To make my selection easier, I decided to narrow the field a bit by choosing an artist who’s still actively putting out new music, and my pick is Yannis Philippakis, the lead singer and guitarist of British alt-rock band Foals, and their recent single “2am“.
Formed in Oxford, England in 2005, Foals current line-up consists of Greek-born Philippakis, drummer and percussionist Jack Bevan, and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith. They’ve ranked among my favorite bands for the past seven years, and I love their exciting, incredibly melodic music, bolstered by Philippakis’ vibrant and distinctive vocal style that makes their songs instantly recognizable as only theirs. They’ve released seven studio albums to date: Antidotes (2008), Total Life Forever (2010), Holy Fire (2013), What Went Down (2015), and Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 & 2 (2019), and Life Is Yours, which dropped June 17th. “2am” was the second single released from Life Is Yours, and has spent the past 15 weeks on my Weekly Top 30.
Written mostly during the bleak Covid lockdowns, Life Is Yours is purposefully more upbeat than their previous albums, many of which featured more serious themes. In an interview with webzine NME, Philippakis remarked how writing upbeat tracks like “2am” offered much needed hope and escapism. “We were thinking about parties, club nights and being drunk on the bus at 2 a.m. trying to get home. All of it: the excitement before you go out, meeting up with your friends, the wild abandon. We really wanted to revel in the power of rhythm and music, and what that brings to your body, heart and soul.” While the lyrics are introspective and melancholic – “It’s about repetitive cycles of destructive behavior, which I think lots of people can relate to, and certainly it’s an expression of something that I struggle with,” Philippakis explained, adding: “There’s something cathartic about expressing that feeling to this upbeat music that’s got a sense of release and the hope of resolution. It’s an absolute banger of a track and feels joyous and full of light to us.” It feels joyous and full of light to me too!