Friday, 18 April 2014

Foster the People - Supermodel Album Review

L.A. natives Foster the People are back with their stellar sophomore effort, aptly titled Supermodel. Over the course of an astounding 45 minutes, front man Mark Foster provides an insightful look at not only his opinion of society, but also himself.

Much different from their debut album, Torches, the band toys with darker lyrics and strays from using the happy, poppy synthetic sound that was extremely prevalent in Torches. Foster also experiments with his voice on quite a few tracks, such as "Goats in Trees", where he risks exploring his lower register rather than using his impressive falsetto as a crutch.

The band could not have chosen a better song to open the album up with than "Are You What You Want To Be?". The track provides almost a Moroccan feel from beginning to end. Listeners can definitely hear how influenced Foster was by other cultures. "Are You What You Want To Be?" sets the tone for the rest of the album, and it is most definitely one of the more interesting, dynamic tracks on Supermodel. It hooks listeners in as soon as they hear the epic instrumental breakdown that occurs within the first 30 seconds of the song. This track flows effortlessly right into the second thought-provoking track, "Ask Yourself", which may inspire listeners to reconsider their life choices (it certainly did that to me).

The first single off of Supermodel, "Coming of Age", is almost a Torches throwback: it provides the same sort of groovy, dance-y feel that fans grew so accustomed to from FTP's debut, which is perhaps why this track became the album's first single. On its fourth track, 'Nevermind", the album seems to take a chilled-out breather in which Mark Foster assures you that "you'll always find what you're looking for". Thanks, Mark. "Nevermind" has a dreamy guitar riff that just makes the listener feel cool.

Ah yes. "Pseudologia Fantastica". This track might quite possibly be the highlight of Supermodel. The instrumentation on this track is absolutely stellar: from every drumbeat to the beautiful piano breakdown to the gripping guitar riffs, the listener is engaged for every second of the song. To top it all off, Foster brings his A-game with his lyrics on this track. The song has a very psychedelic feel that carries on for the entirety of the song, leading the listener to the haunting 30-second "The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones", a track used as a bridge that connects one half of the album to the next.

Right from its snappy bass line, "Best Friend" shows itself to be a potential smash hit. Foster the People goes back to its Torches roots on this track as it is more synth-focused. The track sounds undeniably happy, yet the lyrics might hold a darker meaning that may go unnoticed at first. Could "Best Friend" be as big as "Pumped Up Kicks"? Quite possibly. It definitely deserves to be.

Following "Best Friend" is "A Beginner's Guide to Destroying the Moon". This dynamic track seems to be where Foster releases all of his rage at society, as he progressively gets more aggressive as the song goes on. Towards the end of the track, the song trades in its angry feel for a more whimsical, wistful one. Due to its drastic change partway through the song, "A Beginner's Guide" is one of the more dynamic songs on the album that will keep bringing listeners back for more.

Supermodel seems to run out of energy for its last three tracks, though that is not necessarily a negative thing. Foster completely strips himself down, so to speak, and lets listeners understand who he truly is. Foster's voice is beautiful yet almost delicately vulnerable in these last three tracks as he completely exposes himself to his fans. He sings about his troubling drug addiction in "Goats in Trees", a moody song that accents just how impressive his vocal range is. The track almost takes on a Radiohead-esque feel as Foster hauntingly sings " the numbness was getting closer, the feverish days upon you".

The next track, appropriately titled "The Truth", provides a personal insight into Foster's character. It takes a lot of guts to write a song about yourself and put it on an album that hundreds of thousands of people are going to listen to, and thankfully for Foster the People's fans, Foster was brave enough to put "The Truth" on the album. If he did not, fans would have been missing out on a truly phenomenal song.

The album comes to a slow, acoustic finish with "Fire Escape", a song about Foster's life in Los Angeles. In this track, Foster's melodic voice takes centre-stage, and it is the main focus of the song.

Though it might have been better if Supermodel had spread out its three slowest, saddest tracks throughout the album instead of putting them one after the other, Supermodel is an amazing sophomore album that deserves all the attention that is coming its way. Supermodel shows off Foster the People's coming of age as a band, and it shows off just how mature they have gotten within the past few years.

"But I think it is one of those moments that I feel like a second record is defining for a band, because that's when your fans decide whether they trust you or not", admits Mark Foster on his second album jitters. Oh Mark. You have nothing to worry about. After this stunning effort, how can any of your fans lose trust in you?