by Kyle Smart
A couple summers back, everyone may remember a song that was blowing up every top 40s radio channel. It was a song about a school shooting, and a kid getting back at the bullies in the worst way possible. But hey, it was so damn catchy. We couldn’t get enough of Foster the People with their “Pumped Up Kicks,” along with an album that was nearly perfect to me.
Now, it’s been nearly two years, and Mark Foster, Mark Pontius and Cubby Fink are back with a new collection of songs with their sophomore album, “Supermodel.” I always approach sophomore albums with hesitation, in fear that they will not live up to their debuts, but lucky for me, “Supermodel” holds it’s own.
But as always, the mastermind behind it all is Mark Foster. It’s clear that Foster spent some time building and perfecting a more sincere sound. Giving up more synthetics for guitars and warmer sounds. Foster said he spent time traveling the world in the last few years, and with the worldly sounds in “Are You Who You Want To Be” and “Coming of Age,” it is a solid influence. But Foster’s travelling may be more about soul searching in this album. The questions Foster poses in “Are You Who You Want To Be,” and “Ask Yourself” sound like questions for himself. Along with “Coming of Age,” Mark Foster is growing older and trying to find himself in the bigger questions of life.
Are you just looking for the next big song like “Pumped Up Kicks”? Look no further than “Best Friend.” It oozes catchiness and is dance worthy, with lyrics that have a multitude of layers like “Sometimes it feels like I only dream in black and white” and “When your best friend’s all strung out” that just give it the feeling that the meaning and the sound are mixing like oil and water, but that’s what makes Foster so interesting.
The band takes some new leaps this go around with sounds on “Pseudologia Fantastica” which has a trippy, synthy feeling that is just as trippy as the pronunciation of the song. It is my favorite track on the record. The other big leap in sound is with “Beginner’s Guide to Destroying Moon.” The song is incredibly dark with dirty synths and heavy angry guitars and drums. Mix in Mark Foster’s angry, nearly yelling, lyrics creates a sound we have never heard from the band. It was the most pleasant surprise on the album.
What really proves the talent of the band is in the acoustic songs. Foster is known for slowing it down occasionally, and any live acoustic session proves the band is more than glitz and energetic dance numbers. “Goats in Trees” and “Fire Escape” slow the entire album down for us, and “Fire Escape” is the perfect ending to the album. A soft, sincere ballad to Los Angeles that strips Foster down to just a guitar.
Unfortunately, the album doesn’t hit a total high like “Torches” did. There are a few songs that fall flat, but that is expected. The whole of “Supermodel” is solid, but just not over the top perfect.
The variety of “Supermodel” is fantastic, and while it steps away from what was built with “Torches,” it stands on its own as a record of growth, new experiences, and Foster flare. I look forward to listening to “Supermodel” on repeat, finding all the little hidden messages and meanings, and seeing what comes next for Foster the People. “Supermodel” gets a solid 8 out of 10. Recommended tracks: “Pseudologia Fantastica”, “Beginners Guide to Destroying the Moon”, “Best Friend” and “Fire Escape”.