Genre: Indie Rock/ Pop
Origin: Los Angeles, CA
I can remember the time and the place where I first heard “Pumped Up Kicks.” It was the middle of my last semester of college. I was sitting at my school’s pub debating whether I’d be more productive studying as I ate or eating, then studying. When I heard this song; my head started bobbing, feet tapping, and transporting me out of my surroundings into the fun summer just a few months away. Life’s mediocrities aside, hearing this song made me decide to put my book down, enjoy my food, and not to take life so seriously.
I’m not saying “Pumped Up Kicks” changed my life whatsoever. But it’s exactly what I needed during that stressful time between midterms and finals when you realize, soon you will be shoved out into the real world with years of schooling and you’re either going to sink or swim. With the full-length album release just a few days ago, called Torches, does LA-based Foster the People deliver the light to fiend off the mosquitoes this summer? Not completely, but it’s a start.
The album starts off with a carpe diem attitude, with one of its catchiest songs, “Helena Beat.” With the foremost lyrics: “Sometimes life it takes you by the hand / It puts you down before you know it / It's gone and you're dead again,” you know you’re in for a chilled-out yet upbeat ride to kick off your summer. My favorite track on the album really hits home with the lyrics: “You know those days when you wanted to choose / To not get out of bed and get lost in your head again.” It doesn’t say everything’s going to be alright, but it offers the possibility.
Most of the songs on this album are hit-or-miss, but there are some tracks that really stand out. “Call It What You Want” offers another dancey tune to shake off your burdens, while “Color on the Walls (Don’t Stop),” hints at the more annoying tendencies of pop with a repetitive cookie-cutter pattern we have already heard many times before. The reason why this album is not getting five stars would have to be the repetitive lyrics and patterning in its songs, as well as a lack of originality. Songs like “Waste,” while quite enjoyable, it is plain to see that this group is channeling what MGMT has already done before, that seemingly fresh, off-kilter pop aesthetic, for an alternative audience.
“Houdini,” the second single off this album, offers another well-crafted tune for the summer. It may not be killed on the radio through too much airplay like “Pumped Up Kicks” though. This track is more nuanced and complex than the previous single, with more variation in both the vocals and instrumentation. Though the groups channeling of MGMT is even more pronounced here, when have we dismissed a pop song for being slightly unoriginal?
Another track that stands out would have to be “Miss You.” With lyrics nearing poetry, once again touching upon the psyche of one who needs to ‘just let go’ for a little while, this song truly lets you get lost, or on the flip-side, immersed in the self-reflective present. With a characteristic push-pull drum beat, beautiful vocalization, vivid lyrics, and energetic instrumentation, this song, like many on the album are like the flames of torches. Like the transitory nature of fire, or summer, Torches, while not perfect, is fun while it lasts.
Foster the People - "Helena Beat"
Foster the People - "Houdini"
Torches is now available on Columbia Records.