Review Summary: These are one of those times when we're gonna have a lot of fun.
So much of the music we enjoy here on Sputnik is best listened to alone in a quiet setting. This is mostly because the majority of music that people listen to in groups these days has become more or less unbearable. Every now and then, though, there comes along an artist that can satisfy both the picky solo listener and an entire party full of casual dancers. Foster the People have become the latest band to accomplish this feat, sweeping in a wide range of fans with their debut album, Torches.
Foster the People have a rather simple style. It’s an indie dance vibe, often combining acoustic piano and electric guitars with electronic beats and synthesizers. It’s moments like the pounding drums and pompous piano in the introduction of “Houdini” that make it difficult to avoid grins and head-bobbing. The band often accomplishes the sound of a lot going on musically, when it’s actually just basic (but extremely catchy) rhythms and patterns played in a loud, in-your-face manner with some random sound effects thrown in. However, this is not to say that Foster the People are trying to deceive listeners or come across as something they’re not. It’s simply their style, and it works really well.
This group is a blast, although that’s just about it all it is for now. There isn’t a true ballad anywhere to be found on Torches. Every single track is at least moderately paced, because that’s what Foster the People do best: catchy, upbeat, danceable tunes. They do show that they’re good for more than sweaty dance party material by working some emotion in successfully on “Waste.” However, the album’s weaker moments are when the band strays too far from their usual lighthearted formula, most notably on the biggest attempt at being serious, “I Would Do Anything for You.” It’s the dullest and least memorable track by far. It would be great to see the band become better at tackling different song styles in the future.
The lyrics on Torches aren’t exactly spectacles to gawk at, but they don’t need to be by any means considering what Foster the People are trying to accomplish with this album. It’s great party music, but the lyrics aren’t shallow words about partying. That alone is already more than a good start. While there isn’t any complex decoding to be done, the simple words function perfectly for the most part. They’re easy to memorize and sing along to, and several tracks feature instances of words or phrases repeated with simple melodies. It could have been annoying, but it comes off as fun and catchy.
Foster the People’s greatest strength is the fact that they’ve written an album’s worth of songs that are just so darn CATCHY. After listening to Torches just one time, I found myself recalling the choruses of almost every single track and even a fair amount of the verses. These tunes are a whole lot a fun, and they’re accessible to a diverse audience. Torches is definitely the perfect album to blast with friends this summer. While Foster the People might be just the next big thing among bands of their kind for now, there’s no reason to refrain from enjoying the party while it lasts.