Foster The People - Torches

The start of the record is so strong, that a dip in quality is sadly apparent.

Mark Fosters’ Californian three piece Foster The People are a major label executives’ wet dream: hence why they’re signed to Atlantic. The reason for this becomes apparant within 30 seonds of opening track ‘Helena Beat’. A slightly off kilter drumbeat is punctuated by a child’s laughing before warm, inviting synths don’t so much kick in as glide in. High pitched vocals lead the song to it’s deeply anthemic chorus whose lyric of ‘I took a sip of something poisonous, but hold on tight’ references drug intake. Remind you of anyone?

What Foster The People manage to do (and succesfully, it must be said) is combine ‘Oracular Spectacular’ era MGMT with first album ‘Scissor Sisters’. Their hooks are catchier than a damn catchy thing and the strength of their melodies means the likes of the aforementioned ‘Helena Beat, Call It What You Want’ and (an almost certain) summer smash ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ storm your brain like they’re the police to your crack house and refuse to leave.

However, ‘Torches’ suffers from what has come to be known as ‘Hot Fuss’-itis. That being, the first four tracks of this album have you believing that this could be one of the albums of the year. It’s not an understatement to say that Foster The People have written at least three of the best indie songs of 2011. You will by now have heard ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ - the shuffling drums, the almost slacker bassline, the ‘Young Folks’ aping whistle, the distorted verse / chorus clarity of the vocals. It’s brilliant. However, after that, much like ‘Hot Fuss’ tailed off into average / filler territory, so too does ‘Torches’.

It’s not that any of the songs here are bad - Mark Foster is too talented a craftsman for any such accusations hold weight. It’s just that the start of the record is so strong, that the dip in quality is sadly apparent, despite the best efforts of the band. Most of the rest are pleasant yet ultimately forgettable, variety of instruments and sounds used or not. If you do persevere, the most striking things about ‘Torches’ are the strength of the choruses and the dexterity of Mark Foster’s voice. It genuinely does sound like the band employ two or three different singers.

Whilst it’s not a life changing record, ‘Torches’ can undoubtedly be the one which represents Summer 2011. Sometimes, you don’t need much more than that. The Killers certainly didnt and look how things turned out for them. On the evidence of this, Foster The People have the ability to do the same.

Tags: Foster The People, Reviews, Album Reviews

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