If there's one thing at fault with some of the new, young bands on the indie scene at the moment, it's that they just seem a little too big for their boots. Take Foals, for example. Not only do the arty college dropouts claim to possess a remedy for musical apathy with the title of their debut album, but they had been proved as quite the fussy bunch before Antidotes was even released. Recorded in Brooklyn last Summer with TV On the Radio's Dave Sitek (a rising star in Production Land, with albums by Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the forthcoming Scarlett Johansson under his belt), Foals deemed Sitek's mix 'too spacey' and promptly set about re-mixing it themselves. Whether that revision was a mistake or not is for the listener to decide - but it does seem indicative of the headstrong nature of a band who believe their sound is too special to be harnessed by an outsider.
In truth, Antidotes is far from unique, although there are details here that are used very cleverly, and which do succeed in temporarily setting Foals apart from many of their contemporaries. A band who've been genrefied as 'math-rock' are, in fact, much too mainstream-sounding for such a tag, even if their predominant sound is one of the taut, jerky, offbeat rhythms that typify the genre. This is stylised indie above all else, with elements of dance, punk, afrobeat, and minimalist pop - a blend of styles that's refreshing in small doses, but which quickly becomes overbearingly samey over the course of an album.
Foals' decision to omit two of their best songs here (Mathletics and Hummer) is rectified on the optional Bonus Disc package, but the absence of their semi-frivolity is notable. Antidotes is an unrelentingly staid collection of serious, brooding songs that are only occasionally elevated above a thunderous arty grumble: Olympic Airways's gentle, layered approach creates an almost dreamy ambience, Cassius's dramatic Bloc Party-meets-The Rapture dance-rock is sharper than singer Yannis Philippakis's fringe, and Tron's detached bleepfest is arm-flingingly danceable. When all is said and done, however, Antidotes serves its purpose adeptly - but there's really not enough variety here to make it a permanent fixture on your playlist.