Artist: Foster The People
Release Date: May 23rd, 2011
Genre: Alternative/Psychedelic/Indie Rock/Synth-Pop
Network: Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | Myspace
Purchase: Amazon | MyPlayDirect
MGMT is dead. There, I said it. The short-lived stint that weighed on the brilliant singles of Electric Feel and Kids is over; they are no longer the powerhouse psych-pop force they once were. So to the listeners, feel free to toss those feathery headdresses you made for the next concert and prepare for the next psych-pop LA-sensation known as Foster The People.
Perhaps it’s unfair to compare the recent success of Foster The People to MGMT, especially when you see that Oracular Spectacular released in 2007. Kids didn’t appear on the radio until 2010. Already, Foster The People has enjoyed its dependable airtime. But we can attribute that to them being one of the first Hype Machine bred bands of the new generation of this Internet-Age. With their main singles Helena Beat and Pumped Up Kids proudly shining atop the Hype Machine charts, I guess there’s no argument.
Regardless. We are here to talk about their new album, Torches, where we can see that it heavily borrows from MGMT. And I mean, heavily. It’s as if MGMT balled up into a cocoon, shed its ostentatious psychedelic demeanor, and blossomed into this Californian butterfly. Sure, it’s not a sound that Foster The People created themselves – I know they’ll be docked for a lack of originality in publications – but it’s what specifics they adopted that makes this album so polished, accessible, and a blast to listen to.
The album eases you in with two songs that you should already be familiar with, Helena Beat and Pumped Up Kicks. Smartly, they get two of the songs that everyone fell in love out of the way, which sets up the remainder of the album. Eight exceptional songs reminiscent of the upbeat, synth-reliant dance tunes of Helena Beat and easygoing, head-bobbing melodies of Pumped Up Kicks.
Starting with Call It What You Want, Torches gives you a glimpse of what’s to come. A funky beat that accompanies a bouncy piano theme and a catchy chorus, it’s deliciously appetizing. Then to Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls), a track that starts off with the oh-so-addictive whistling that drills itself into your foot-tapping muscles and relentlessly never lets go. Suddenly, you’re swooped into the fantastical sounds of Waste, which transports you into a daydream epic of echo-y goodness through legendary bells that reverberate throughout.
Halfway through, you begin to notice it’s very minor fault. Maybe I’m expecting too much from this wildly hyped band, but the overflowing pop simply lacks variety. Each have a catchy chorus of its own, but there are only tiny distinctions from one track to another. Some variations in synth riffs and instrumentals, everything seems to replicate the same structure as the last. On their own, each song is appealing on its own with its catchy choruses, but as a whole, the album just starts to merge into the same sound. Regardless though, these are fabulous songs, don’t get me wrong.
The album hits, in my opinion, the absolute high with Miss You, a rollicking fast-paced that’s different from the rest. Heavily distorted and twisted synths, it is by far the most boisterous song that breaks free of its recurring sound. Loud snares and bass drums drives the song forward, until it hits a jarring break for a meditative vocal solo, only to build right back up where it left out. It’s important to note that Mark Foster’s high-pitched voice and ability to capture the comfortable groove of the band keeps the album together. And he hits his stride when he mixes his haunting falsettos into the tunes. Whiny, nasally, or whatever you want to describe his voice, it’s perfect for the band.
For a freshman album, it can’t victimized too much for its slight variety issues, as Foster The People have already surpassed the hype they have generated and demonstrate what they know best. The door is left wide open for the band, whether or not they want to experiment with a diversification of sound, but what they have shown us is instantly respectable and totally likable. A must-listen for any dance-pop follower and fans left itching for more songs like Kids.
ST Grade: 8/10
Notable songs: Pumped Up Kicks, Helena Beat, Miss You, Houdini, Call It What You Want