‘What Went Down’ was initially a bit of a downer for me in terms of a comeback single. It had flares of ‘Inhaler’ and the ferocity of ‘Providence’ in the later parts of the track. In short, it felt a lot like what Foals had produced on 2013’s Holy Fire. The lyrics are even more direct, more so than Holy Fire’s exploration into poppier formulas. The chorus is so simple and direct its rawness is very present, especially when lead singer Yannis Philippakis belts out ‘When I see a man I see a liar’ it resembles Kurt Cobain barking out ‘Never met a wise man, if so it’s a woman’ on ‘Territorial Pissings’. The lyrics get even darker when Philippakis sings ‘You’re the apple of my eye’, but it’s sinister and not exactly loving. Philippakis has never delivered his lyrics so venomously and with so much passion. Before its been a mixture of mumbling and yelling, but here Foals tap into an animalistic side of Yannis that truly has to be witnessed on the strange video. And we haven’t even got to the instrumentals yet.
For the verses, the hard guitar strums are a little unnecessary and remove the power of the chorus. Whereas on ‘Inhaler’, the blow-your-head-off-riff came so suddenly that it was impressive, however here we get a taster of it before. The pre-chorus of Yannis mumbling and the growling guitars shortly enough explode into Philippakis’ aforementioned straight-up ballistic vocals. The bridge, containing an unwelcome piano which subdues the ferocity the song has brought up, descends into the build-ups that Foals have refined from ‘Spanish Sahara’ tearjerkers into tension-building nailbiters. The guitars seemed to have got to their absolute height, before another pedal is pressed and they get even louder. Initially I wasn’t too keen on the track – it had little resemblance to the slow-burning, lyrically-cryptic past of Foals, but this is Foals. They’ve become more than a math-rock band from Oxford now, this is the kind of song that they’ll be headlining festivals with and have fans yelling back at them.