This was the first song to be played from British Indie Rock band Foals' second album Total Life Forever. BBC DJ Zane Lowe premiered the tune on his Radio 1 show on March 1, 2010. It was released as a single on April 17th as a 7" as part of Record Store Day. Only 1000 copies were printed and it was sold through independent record stores only.
This meditation on matters post-apocalyptic builds up from a ballad-like beginning before really kicking off at the end. Drummer Jack Bevan told The Vine
: "We're really proud of that song. When we first wrote it, it was like any song, where we were just playing all the way through it. And then we just decided, after Yannis had nailed the lyrics, that we'd try and kick everything out except the guitars and just some ambiance at the beginning. So it builds and really kicks off at the end. For me as a drummer, it was quite hard to get the restraint to sit back and not play over the first couple of minutes and then gradually come in, but when it does kick in, it's probably the most fun part of the set to actually play."
The song was voted by UK publication NME as their Best Track of 2010.
Singer Yannis Philippakis explained to the NME the story of the song: "The chord sequence had been around for quite a while - Jimmy (Smith, guitarist) wrote it on tour, in a hotel room in America, but then we forgot about it for a long time. The lyrics came later, but after that it came together easily. We recorded it in our basement, in the dark. At the time I wanted to be more disciplined with my lyrics, less cryptic, and I think Spanish Sahara is a good example of that."
So how did the song title come about? Here's what Yannis said to the NME: "The title came from a local band's cassette that I bought for a pound after a show in Oxford. I never listened to it, but it was wrapped in a map, and on that map it said Spanish Sahara. It seemed to fit with the song's mood, which is lunar and apocalyptic, but beautiful. Hopefully it allows different interpretations."
Inspired by a bleak moment gazing out at the Aegean Sea, lyrically the song was singer Yannis Philippakis' attempt to capture the intensity of Greek myth. He explained to the NME: "I came up with the lyrics while visiting my dad in Greece. I went for a walk on this really remote beach. It's the deepest point ion the Aegean, and locals think it's an evil place. The beach was littered with refuse and I saw a dead dog floating in the waves. It was a twisted, hallucinogenic scene, but it had a weird beauty to it. I wanted to capture that sense of malignancy."
Yannis explained to the NME: the lyric "I'm the fury in your head:" "Furies are the avenging angels of Greek myth, referenced in Homer's Iliad: "That idea interested me," he said. "You experience trauma and it stays with you, it's a vortex in your head that recurs, and can echo through generations. But you can also sort of become that trauma, make it into a positive thing. It's the idea of taking on things that are against you."
Yannis discussed the video with the NME: "I was pleased with the video, because we were able to capture some of the imagery that inspired the song, which has a sparse and fantastical quality to it. I wanted it to conjure a scene where there's no sign of civilization, and there's a feeling of loneliness."