Review Summary: "Maturity Album Syndrome" claims yet another victim.
A big issue I have with bands like Foster the People is that despite the sheer infectiousness and catchiness of their music, it's very easy for a band like them to become a one trick pony. Exactly why was Torches
such a hit? Because it had what it took to get people listening. Catchy beats, infectious choruses, songwriting that isn't particularly deep, and yet it worked for a band like them. Sure, it wasn't quite deep like some would expect, but it showed that the band had what it took to win our hearts. Unfortunately, only two tracks into Supermodel
, we've got the gut feeling that this might be the death blow to their credibility. Although. "Ask Yourself" isn't a particularly bad song, and is quite fast-paced and catchy, at the same time, it feels so... weirdly unnatural for a band like them. It sounds like what Flaming Lips would sound like if they lost their sense of direction, and sacrificed their spark for a chance at being in the spotlight. While it's admirable that Foster the People didn't want to make Torches II
, much of the last sentence is pretty much what the most accurate way of describing Supermodel is. It seems as if they're sacrificing their spark for a chance to be "big" and what not, by trying to adapt into a "stronger" and more "perfect" sound. And I guess that technically this album might be better than the last, but at the same time, that's exactly what is wrong with it. It's too "perfect" sounding. While the flaws may have been glaringly obvious on their previous album, that is partly what gave the music such character. And while none of the tracks here are particularly terrible, and might be "good" sounding, it strangely simultaneously leaves a lot to be desired.
The reason this is so strange is because Supermodel
is something of a loose concept album based around the theme of the perils of capitalism. While the album doesn't have a story connecting the songs, much of the songs are all about how capitalism is driving our generation to corporate cannibalism. And this is pretty much ironic considering that most of the songs reek of "capitalizing on what seems to be 'in' nowadays". The album sees Foster and his group of minions going in several different directions, and the majority of them don't work. And that's sad, because the best moments on the album are when the band dabble in Torches
style shanties. Easily one of the best songs on the album is "Best Friend", which could practically be described as "Call It What You Want" on steroids. It sports a pretty funky style and is pretty danceable. In fact, if Foster wanted to trick people into thinking that this would be a sequel to Torches
, this would be right up their ally. Funny enough, lead single "Coming of Age" would seem like the song that would have done it, even all the way down to the "oooooooh"so sprinkled throughout the song. It's pretty much sounds like "Helena Beat", but a bit brighter and more upbeat. Sadly, when the band tries to expand their horizons, this is where the album comes up short. The MGMT-esque "Pseudologica Fantastica" is a clear example of this- trying to be original means cashing in on what's the "in" thing nowadays, and while the song isn't particularly bad, it reeks so mightily of try-hard. It even goes so far as to have MGMT's "synthesizer splooging" at full blast present throughout the song. And the sad thing is also that the highlight of the record is the last track- the slow, acoustic "Fire Escape" is what could be considered the real "highlight" of the album, and considering there where numerous other chances the album had a chance to prove itself, it face plants on every one of those attempts. Case in point, "The Beginner's Guide to Destroying the Moon" which shows the band trying to showcase a more angry side with more "grungy" riffs and angsty lyrics. Problem is, it's as profound as a Paramore tune- which is to say, hardly.
In all honesty, I would like to see where the band goes from here, but the sad thing is, all I can see happening is a potential identity crisis, and a possible breakup. The band branching out to other genres and styles throughout the album is indeed admirable and shows the band maturing in a way none would think possible, but the result of this experimentation is what really drags the album down- with the ideas either trying too hard or coming off as half-baked, it's not quite clear what the band are trying to do here, and the songs lack the sense of energy or vibrancy that the previous album sported. Sure, while Torches
relied a bit on formula, the energy and tongue-in-cheekness was still there, and sadly it appears to be gone with this album. While I do want so badly for Foster the People to succeed, it looks as if by the next time they release a record, it will be hard to care about them anymore. Either way, they'll sadly most likely be doomed. Let's hope they manage to prove me wrong.