Under Review: Foster The People – Torches

For any young band to make a noticeable statement with their debut album is a tall order. Foster The People not only have to overcome the obstacle that is an overcrowded music industry, but a major roadblock that they constructed themselves. Formed in 2009 as the creative outlet of Los Angeles musician Mark Foster, Foster The People got to work on their debut album late last year. Not wanting to keep the first fruits of their labor to themselves, the band (which now includes permanent members drummer Mark Pontius and bassist Cubbie Fink) released a self-titled EP featuring the first three tracks that had been completed in the sessions for their record. Of those three songs, “Pumped Up Kicks” was the undeniable standout. The track, part “Hey St. Peter,” part “Kids” (as in, MGMT) and part “I Don’t Like Mondays,” stands as one of the defining tracks of 2011. With the unusual challenge of having to top themselves so early into their career, Foster and his people have proven to be much more than a here-and-gone group with their full length album, Torches.

Featuring production work from several producers (including The Bird And The Bee’s Greg Kurstin and  Foster himself), Torches expands on the hooky electro-pop of FTP’s first EP. Leading with “Helena Beat,” another track from the Foster The People EP, Torches builds and builds as it plays out. “Pumped Up Kicks,” the twisted tale of Robert, a high schooler who unloads his dad’s six-shooter on his class, comes next, offering some familiarity and setting the listener up for what’s to come. One of Foster’s collaborations with British producer Paul Epworth, “Call It What You Want,” packs a lively Madchester rhythm, and “Miss You” rides a jumpy beat between its sentimental refrain.

As a solo performer cast into the spotlight, Foster’s lyrics often muse on the loneliness of center stage. “Houdini,” the third track on the original EP, contrasts the vulnerability of an onstage singer with the power a master magician wields over his audience. With songs as strong as the ones on Torches, Foster can rest assured that his audiences will be quite astounded. They’ll not only marvel at the fact that Foster has more up his sleeve than “Pumped Up Kicks,” but that Foster The People are just getting started.

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~ by E. on May 24, 2011.

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