Foster the People’s Latest
March 25, 2014
Foster the People, an indie pop/rock band from LA, officially released Supermodel last week, their second album three years after debut Torches. Both Torches and the popular track, “Pumped Up Kicks” received Grammy nominations in 2011, leading many to speculate what the band would release in the future.
Several singles preceded the album’s release, including catchy “Coming of Age” in January and “Pseudologia Fantastica” in February. Both support the album as a concept album, one whose songs ‘express a particular theme or idea.’ According to several sources, Supermodel’s is that of the ‘pitfalls of capitalism’ and consumerism, and on a more personal note, self-discovery.
Self-identity is certainly a unifying idea of the album: the recurring line in the chorus of “Ask Yourself” ‘is this the life you’ve been waiting for?’ underlines the song’s address to someone who has fallen short of their goals. Similarly, “Are You What You Want to Be?” also highlights the pressures of society’s labels: ‘[you] stick them onto everything…I gotta keep myself free.’ Both present relatable ideas and emotions, reaching the listener on a personal level.
But viewing the album as a collective unit, as a concept album, the ‘you’ in most of the tracks can stand for society as a whole and not just an individual, as Foster’s lyrics question the major flaws of modern capitalism. This provides a fresh perspective on lyrics that could also appear merely aimed at people on a personal level.
In this album, Foster the People has moved away from the fast-paced electronic beats of songs from Torches such as “Helena Beat” and “Pumped Up Kicks.” Instead Supermodel is more guitar-based, especially “A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon” whose riffs amplify Foster as he sings of society’s reliance on those in power. Yet the album is not completely different: “Best Friend” is reminiscent of those previous Torches tracks with its sing-songy, catchy chorus.
While it is indeed a concept album- tracks clearly highlight society’s unhealthy tendencies- those messages are not delivered in a one-dimensional fashion: “Goats in Trees” provides a relief from other loud, guitar-heavy songs with its slower, acoustic feel.
Some songs attempted to combine both into one and did so successfully; sadly “The Truth” didn’t achieve this balance. Its high-pitched chorus punctuated what was otherwise a slower song with almost preachy lyrics. Yet as one of the only flaws of a decent album, the track didn’t do much to hinder the album’s overall success.
Foster’s lyrics are definitely darker than the majority of songs from Torches:
In “A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon,” the song states:
You’ll never be whole…
Until you lose control.
And stop drinking the wine
That’s been dripping from lips
Of the gluttons
And envying their bloody teeth…
These more serious lyrics accompany the previously mentioned guitar.
Overall, Foster the People’s change in sound from Torches (2011) with its fast-paced tunes punctuated with electronic effects to more of a guitar-based rock feel reveal the band’s ability to adapt and grow: keeping their own sound without losing their catchiness. The use of a concept album and its accompanying theme unifies a variety of songs under one unique message.
Listen to the complete album here.