By: Adam Harrison (@AdamRHarrison) –
It’s time to get those pumped up kicks out of the closet again in preparation for more groovy indie rock from Foster the People. The Los Angeles trio now brings us their second studio album, Supermodel. Filled with plenty more danceable tunes of their unique variety, they’ve got big kicks to fill following the huge success of their debut album, Torches, back in 2011.
If you listened to Torches, than Supermodel won’t surprise you, but for any new listeners, you’ve likely never heard anything quite like it. So many genres including indie pop, alternative rock, indietronica, alternative dance and neo-psychedelia have followed Foster The People. None of which are incorrect. Their songs mash so many genres together they’re almost indefinable. Which is what makes this band so unique.
The album opens with the song “Are You What You Want To Be?” which starts with a pretty standard rock rah-rah build-up, but then completely changes rhythms into and almost jungle-like groove for the verse, then back again. The bridge then swings the hip and shoulder-shaking tune into a guitar and drums-heavy section. Now you know what you’re in for the next three-quarters of an hour.
The first single, “Coming of Age” is almost the most generic sounding song. That being said it still features some great keyboard work and vocal harmony. It’s probably the most radio friendly song on the album, which is not a bad thing as this is still rock n’ roll after all.
It is a little surprising based on all the dancey, upbeat tempos, but Foster the People are not afraid to get a little dark with their lyrics. As we learned with their smash hit “Pumped Up Kicks,” which is about a troubled youth with homicidal thoughts. Supermodel again delves into some touchy and emotional subjects. For example, the song “Best Friend” is about supporting a friend with a drug addiction.
The song “Ask Yourself” may be a metaphor for the band’s whirlwind success. It touches on second-guessing one’s decisions and the never-ending hunt to want more than you have. The first verse includes the lyrics, “You want more and ambition’s taken its toll on you. Well hey your confidence is fading with your youth.” And the chorus says, “Is this the life you’ve been waiting for? – Or are you hoping that you’ll be where you want with a little more?” Both of which give the song a very human element.
The album’s standout track is “The Truth.” If anything grabs attention, it’s a song with a slow, quiet, nonchalant verse that blasts into a powerful chorus. “The Truth” does just that. Lead vocalist, pianist, keyboardist, synthesizer, guitarist, programmer and percussionist, Mark Foster, throws his voice like only he can, while some deep piano notes and quick drums back him up.
Overall, Supermodel doesn’t bring anything new to the table that we didn’t already expect from the overachievers. But it’s not fair to criticize a band that has already unexpectedly merged so many genres for not redefining them with every album. Supermodels backs up the success and popularity of the unorthodox sound they have created in the first place. If anything, in combination with Torches, it proves that they’ve got more than just a few pumped up kicks.
Essential Tracks: “Coming of Age,” “The Truth,” and “Ask Yourself”.