Foster the People debut with “Torches”

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Foster the People debut with “Torches”

Chris Henn

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Foster the People released “Torches” in May, their first full length album. On first listen it’s instantly reminiscent of MGMT or Peter Bjorn and John with catchy lyrics, whistling, and straight danceable beats. They’re even on the same label as MGMT, Sony/Columbia.

As much as the press release would like to believe, “Torches” is not a radically new sound. There is somewhat of a formula for “indie pop” emerging, and Foster the People nail it. “Torches” is produced by Paul Epworth, who worked with Adele and Florence and the Machine, and Greg Kurstin, who worked with popular alternative rock groups Beck and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even the attitude of the band is as generic as the genre itself. “We just want people to feel better about their lives,” said Mark Foster, the groups singer, guitarist, synth man, percussionist and programmer.

That’s not say that it’s bad music. “Torches” is a summer album in every sense. “Helena Beat” starts off the album with loud, punchy drums before the synth’s main melody sets it. The singer has that border line boy/girl voice, and sings with smooth uplifting lyrics. “Yeah, yeah, and it’s okay / I tie my hands up to a chair so I don’t fall that way” rings the chorus.

Up next is “Pumped Up Kicks,” the standout hit on the album. It’s much like first; it’s short and sweet at an even four minutes, and contains plenty of catchy melodies, clapping and whistling. It’s that one song that you may recognize without knowing what it is—I discovered Foster the People after hearing my brother play “Pumped Up Kicks” for the millionth time and not knowing the band.

The short, 40 minute album flows quickly through the next songs. Without any particularly outstanding tracks, there aren’t many weak points to the album either. “Life on the Nickel” sounds like Animal Collective with slightly murkier beats. “Miss You” is one of my favorites, with a quick two-step beat and some edgy guitar, while “Warrant” finishes it all off in a similar style as the rest.

I can’t tell you what music is good, but this is an album that I bet a lot of people will like, especially if they’re into alternative rock. It’s heavily produced–at times I found myself wishing for fewer layers of guitar or vocals, but it’s well done nonetheless. Because of it’s catchy nature the album may get old fast, yet at 6+ playthroughs I still enjoy it and highly recommend you give it a listen.

Written by Chris Henn. This article is an online exclusive.

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Foster the People debut with “Torches”