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Foster the People are a new band, formed a couple of years ago and have so far released this one album, 'Torches'. Originally, the band were called Foster & The People (Foster being the lead singer and songwriter, Mark Foster) but eventually settled on the current name.
The album kicks off with 'Helena Beat' which was the second single to be released from the record. It's an obvious, though perhaps lazy, statement to make that the band sound very much like MGMT. Both bands mix disco with psychedelica and feel good tunes. I think the song is about life taking you by surprise and basically rolling with it. It's a great opener that sets the standard for the rest of the album.
Debut single 'Pumped Up Kicks' comes next and it's a fantastic track. There is a contrast between the upbeat, happy sounding music and the lyrics which centre around a disillusioned teenager going on a killing spree. The first verse in written in the third person and the second verse is written in the first person. It's possible therefore that the song is about copycat killing in the US. Either way, a heavy bass line, strong melody, hand claps and whistles mean than on first listen it sounds like a great, innocent pop song.
'Call It What You Want' has a irritating first 20 seconds but then a piano comes in and returns to the catchy melodies we've heard so far. The piano continues throughout the song and a dance beat combines with lyrics denouncing the tendency within society to label and conform and be afraid to have any individuality.
'Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)' is an ode to being a young child and completely carefree. It sounds very much like the Dandy Warhols at their best.
'Waste' is yet another ridiculously melodic and upbeat song. The lyrics are very ambiguous aside from the obvious message of wasting days/your life. It talks of monsters that won't go and devils on your back so it possibly about wasting your life or feeling as though it's being wasted because of something holding you back. It could be drugs, illness or anything.
'I Would Do Anything For You' is about exactly what you'd expect. It's telling the tale of being truly in love with someone and giving everything to be with that person. In true Foster the People style, there is probably a slight under-current of it being a messed up relationship with lines like 'And Shakin my head from all that I've done; But you never left me' and there is also the implication that the relationship is by no means perfect, but better than previous ones.
'Houdini' is a tune simply about wanting to disappear. For what reasons, I'm unsure but it could because of a feeling of being restricted. The track begins with a big drum beat and again has a piano running all the way through.
'Life On the Nickel' seems to be written from the life of a drug addict whose only aim in life is to be able to get his or her next hit. It could be by stealing to be able to afford it for instance and then the relaxation that comes once the aim is achieved. Tribal drums and falsetto backing vocals provide the sound.
Penultimate song 'Miss You' is the weakest song on the album for me. It lacks the melody and doesn't quite flow as much as the other tracks. It's almost too stop start and jerky.
'Warrant' rounds off the record and it's a fitting ending. The intro is moody and darker than anything on the rest of the album but then the piano starts and as the vocal comes in normal service is reserved. Another catchy song with lyrics about wanting to get away or running from something.
Overall, this is a brilliant 38 minutes of music. As previously stated, the MGMT comparisons are fair although FTP are a more tune driven band and they are almost impossible to dislike. When playing this in my office people are continually asking who the band is which is rare for my usual choice of music! Beneath the happy, upbeat, feel good melodies is a more sinister, darker world of much more meaningful and clever lyrics and stories than is obvious at first. The band's strength is the ability to combine these two things into a hugely promising and incredible record.
*This review is my own although I may post it elsewhere.
This is the first studio album from Foster The People and while they have not achieved global stardom and success so far they are certainly on the right track with this wonderful album.
=== Helena Beat ===
This is quite a funky start to the album. I find myself being hypnotised in to listening to the rest of the album just from hearing this song. The opening of this song is quite funky and as the song kicks in I feel like I want to sing along even though I find it a little difficult to recognise exactly what is being said.
=== Pumped Up Kicks ===
A fantastic beat opens this song and it has a sound in the background that just makes me think of relaxing and being by the seaside in the sun! The electro kind of effect used here makes me think of 'Video Killed The Radio Star' and there is just something about this song that makes me feel like I will still love this in years to come like I do that song. This is definitely their most famous song to date being used on numerous adverts and TV shows over the past few months and this was the song that brought me on to listening to this album. I find myself swaying and singing along to this song with ease and with a lighter feeling in my heart after just a minute or two.
=== Call It What You Want ===
I love the electro feel to the start of this song and the different sounds that are going on. After just 20 seconds or so the real feel of this song kicks in and it makes me think of Mylo as it has quite an electro feel to it. The lyrics are fun, fresh and funky. The piano on this song is fun and fresh also and just works so very well. This song is upbeat and is definitely one that I could dance to after a few drinks with the girls. I could see this being successful in the charts if the radio stations loved it as much as I do!
=== Don't Stop (Color On The Walls) ===
This song has a brilliant carefree feel to it. The lyrics reflect this well and there is something so familiar about this song from the very first time I played it right until now when I have listened to it numerous times. I love the simple lyrics of this song and just feel that this works so very well. Funky and fun are the words that immediately spring to mind when thinking about this song and there is a brilliant beat running throughout that just makes me want to sway with a paintbrush in hand or just generally while doing something artistic.
=== Waste ===
This song really could sum up so many situations, speaking of something being a waste, being held back perhaps, and this just sings to me so right! The opening few notes of this song reminds me of 'Pumped Up Kicks' but not in a samey kind of way, just in a way that works so well. This is catchy, ridiculously so, and I find that this song is the one that stays in my mind the most, well, besides 'Pumped Up Kicks'.
=== I would Do Anything For You ===
This is a love song, a great one in fact. The song works so well with its brilliant lyrics, the type that sing about a true relationship, one with problems, issues and difficulties but one that is filled with love and doing anything in the World for that one special person. This feels like lyrics that are spoken from the heart, truly, and the music works well too. There is a catchy little 'ooh la la' part in the chorus that works so well and somehow keeps this song uplifting and moving along with the pace of the rest of the album while getting across the message about this being the best relationship ever.
=== Houdini ===
Catchy from the outset this song just grabs my attention! There is a funky little clapping style part that works well and the beat is uplifting, funky and incredibly catchy. This is a big beat song with a wonderful piano part being played throughout. The lyrics are about wanting to make like Houdini and disappear and they work very well with the song. This is catchy and I can find myself singing along to this almost a little too heartfelt sometimes!
=== Life On The Nickel ===
This song sounds a little different, initially, to the rest of the album but it soon begins to feel just like it belongs on this wonderful album. There is a very falsetto sound to this song and the lyrics really reach out to me. They sing of addiction and being desperate to do anything for just another hit. They are quite deep lyrics but the melody of the song and the falsetto helps to bring this down a little and prevent the song from being too heavy.
=== Miss You ===
The opening minute or two of this song bores me really, there is no other way to say it. I start to feel like this song is a real weak link and then it redeems itself by becoming interesting towards the end. There are not many lyrics in this song, which is a shame, and I feel like this could have helped save this song from just being known, by myself, as the only weak link on a fantastic album.
=== Warrants ===
While I am not sure if this song is referring directly to arrest warrants it is definitely singing about needing to get away from something. The opening to this song is really different to any other on the album but is soon leads in to the usual style of this album. The piano, the catchy beats and funky lyrics which I have come to know so well while listening to this album. The only let down of this song was that I felt that it sounded a little muffled towards the end of listening.
=== Overall opinion ===
Overall I really enjoyed this album. The album is uplifting, funky, fresh and has some fantastic beats going on. There is only one weak link, Miss You, but even that is not a song that I actually skip when listening to the album so I think that says it all really!
I really do love the sound of this album. There are many good songs on this album with 'Pumped Up Kicks' being my particular favourite even though it has been months since the first time I heard it and this is definitely the song that I return to time and time again!
This album can be picked up in numerous places and I paid a little over £5.50 for my copy a few weeks ago which I felt was fantastic value, particular for the play that I have already had from this album in such a short space of time.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Helena Beat
2 Pumped Up Kicks
3 Call It What You Want
4 Donâ??t Stop (Color On The Walls)
6 I Would Do Anything For You
8 Life On The Nickel
9 Miss You