Foster the People
Torches


3.0
good

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
May 23rd, 2011 | 133 replies | 33,068 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

Foster the People almost made me want to hate them from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong – “Pumped Up Kicks,” the band’s first single, is easy to love, a MGMT rehash filtered through the surly Strokes-ish vocals of leader Mark Foster, propelled by the kind of hook Apple marketing execs’ wet dreams are made of. No, it was more how I found the band playing a evening set at Coachella off the basis of a three-song EP; how, after enjoying said set, I browsed through summer concerts to see the synthpop group playing a two night set in L.A. that had already promptly sold out months in advance; how KROQ has already murdered said great single by relentless replay, turning a song I loved into one I was already sick of after a couple months, * la MGMT’s “Time To Pretend;” See a trend here?

But I realized I was being selfish, and a bit jealous – this isn’t the first time a band has ridden the coattails of a great couple songs to a major label and national airplay, and far be it from me to hate a band that was merely guilty of knocking every pitch out of the park that came their way. As far as Foster the People go, it’s hard to blame them. Their self-titled EP was a fantastic three-song slice of electro-pop, the kind that MGMT and Passion Pit had already ridden in successive years to headlining festival slots. It’s the “in” sound right now, particularly in that glorified 18-24 demographic, and with “Pumped Up Kicks,” “Helena Beats” and “Houdini,” Foster the People could have done a lot worse than gifting the world with a remodeled MGMT devoid of any high art aspirations. These are powerfully neon-lit songs, summer anthems in the making that revel in surging synths and SoCal harmonies and hooks that sink deep. “Houdini,” in particular, is the kind of well produced jam that stands up to the best of their influences, a fist pumping piano part anchoring Foster’s waifish falsetto awash in day-glo electronics. It’s the kind of forward-thinking pop song that many an indie band would die for; Torches, thankfully, has about four or so more to spare.

The problem with Torches is the same problem uber-hyped groups like Black Kids have had in the past – we’ve already heard the best the band has had to offer. The three songs on the EP are the three best songs on the album, and it’s not even close. Those that are, most noticeably the Beach Boys ooh-la-las of “I Would Do Anything For You” and the inventive percussive rhythms underlying “Waste,” are unfortunately derailed by saccharine lyrics that call to mind the worst of electro-pop cash-ins. It makes me a little less confident that Foster, who, after all, chose the band name because he liked the “nurturing image it evoked of taking care of the people,” will be able to pair his considerable songwriting skill with lyrics that aren’t quite so stale.

Luckily for Foster, the hooks are still there, and for coeds looking for that perfect album to blast down the beach roads this summer, there are few albums better suited than Torches. Aside from the trying-too-hard-to-be-a-rock-band in closer “Warrant,” Foster the People show a remarkable skill in sticking to what they know, be it typical dance-rock sing-a-longs (preferably with the top down) like “Call It What You Want” or slightly off-kilter but still pleasantly palatable synth-rock numbers like “Hustling (Life on the Nickel),” “Miss You,” et al. But even a flavor of the season can be fleeting – just ask Black Kids’ how their sophomore album is coming along. For all the immediacy inherent in Torches, it’s hard to imagine listening to this album in a different time and place (say, winter of this year) and still having that instant connection. For better or for worse, Torches is a product of the here and now, and who can be mad at Foster the People for seizing it for all its worth? Get it while it lasts, boys.



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Chart.
3.2
good
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Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2011



10311 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

my first black crystal

Digging: Literature - Chorus

bowlofsoup
May 23rd 2011



1073 Comments


I honestly just looked these guys up because they have a free single up on itunes. Not really my things. Great review though

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2011



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice review, like I said on the other one, I can already tell this would be a 3-3.5 from just hearing "Pumped Up Kicks"

I'm still pumped (oh aren't I funny?) to see them at Sasquatch though. It sounds like the sort of music I'd want to hear while lazing around on a hot summer day, so it should translate well to Sasquatch.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2011



10311 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

they are pretty great live

RadioheadSucks
May 23rd 2011



27 Comments


Puts my review to shame, good stuff. I have yet to find an album that Rudy Klapper likes that I don't.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2011



10311 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

his taste is quite impeccable

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 24th 2011



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I dunno dude, that kid is kind of a loser. I mean he doesn't even have any metal in his pie chart.

MBS
May 24th 2011



83 Comments


we listen to kroq where i work and i fucking hate pumped up kicks because of it


Mordecai.
May 24th 2011



8277 Comments


digging this album. seeing them live in July, should be fun

FelixCulpa
May 24th 2011



1239 Comments


Dammit because of the summary I have Wont get fooled again stuck in my head [Goes and listen to the who]

Baphomet
May 24th 2011



7364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm more than OK with this.

G3N3R1C
May 24th 2011



1945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah 3.5 feels about right for this right now. honestly, i wouldn't argue with a 3 or 4 rating for this either.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2011



10311 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i had this at a 3.5 for a while but it grew off me

ihopeuchoke
May 24th 2011



668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel like this album will age badly, but for now I just find it so catchy


Baphomet
May 25th 2011



7364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I have that feeling to.

Still, I'll enjoy it up until it gets old.

ihopeuchoke
May 25th 2011



668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And I completely disagree with the review about "Warrant." That's one of my favorite tracks on here. I think it's probably the catchiest on the album.

G3N3R1C
May 25th 2011



1945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Warrant is alright. I really like Waste, though.

Also, the version of this that i downloaded had 2 Best Buy exclusive bonus tracks; one of which, Love, is almost as maddeningly catchy as Pumped Up Kicks.

ihopeuchoke
May 25th 2011



668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fuck yes. Time to dl some tracks


RadioheadSucks
May 25th 2011



27 Comments


I'm still waiting on my god damn preorder to arrive

ihopeuchoke
May 25th 2011



668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's what you get for hating on radiohead. Those guys have ultimate power and will make your preorder come in days late



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