Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 (Warner) ****

THIS might be a Part 1 – the second instalment is set to land in the autumn – but in some ways the sixth album from Oxford art-rockers Foals is a Part 2.

It skips a generation in their catalogue, being the natural successor to 2013’s brilliant Holy Fire and ditching the approach they deployed for its follow-up, What Went Down. That turned Foals into arena beasts, but somehow its muscular, amped-up sound didn’t fit; craft sacrificed for epicness.

No such worries with Everything…Part 1. Tonally, it’s similar to Holy Fire, but rather than betraying a lack of progression and ideas, it takes what Foals do best, makes some modifications, and creates an impact through grooves that outstrips the one they tried to make through noise on What Went Down.

If there’s a theme, it could be described as "pre-apocalyptic". Frontman Yannis Philippakis has a good line in "panicky", and he activates it on Exits – a clipped, mechanical slice of atmospheric, dystopian pop – and the skittering In Degrees, one of several tracks that prove Foals have remembered where they put the synths.

They’re even more front-of-house when On The Luna gleams into view, with random childhood-remembrance lyrics giving way to a jittery present-day state of mind (“I’m worried all day”). And that’s before we reach Sunday, where a sweeping climate-change lament suddenly morphs into 90 seconds of techno that sees Foals become Underworld; you half-expect Philippakis to start yelping “Drive boy, dog boy, dirty dumb angel boy…”. It’s like slotting a remix into the original, and it’s so effective that, for a moment, you’re not really sure what’s going on.

With at least three weak songs out of ten (Syrups and Café D’Athens are as limp as their titles), this doesn’t have the depth or consistency of Holy Fire, but in places it’s better. Everything…Part 2 could see more of the same, the synths taking over, the guitars elbowing them aside, or something else completely. Whatever it turns up, Everything…Part 1 makes it worth waiting for.

Mark Stead