Monday, March 17, 2014

Supermodel | Foster the People


It seems like every year, indie music is dragged around from sound to sound; usually it's a trend set by one artist. 2012 was all about the dreary sadcore sound of Lana Del Rey and alt-J, and 2013 was pretty well dominated by the bare-bones sound of Lorde, the twinkly synths of Chvrches, and the light rock sound of Haim. However, Foster the People is back to release a follow-up to their 2011 debut Torches, and they're here to drag indie music back a few decades, into a summery, relaxing vibe.

The first two tracks from the album seem to run hand and hand in terms of meaning: "Are You What You Want to Be?" and "Ask Yourself." Both of them have a nostalgic, summery feel and both rely on a theme of self-reflection. Personally, I feel like "Are You What You Want to Be?" is like "Call It What You Want" 2.0, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The lead single from Supermodel is very likable, but gets a bit repetitive. "Coming of Age" is, well, about coming of age and growing up... which is evidently made clear in the chorus: "Feels like, feels like it's coming / It feels like, feels like I'm coming of age / Feels like, feels like it's coming / It feels like, feels like I'm coming of age." This same chorus is repeated five times throughout the song, so it's clear where I got that whole repetitive comment from. The song is catchy though, and borrows slightly from electronica, featuring plenty of electric guitar riffs.

The longest song on the record, "Pseudologia Fantastica," tops out at just over five and a half minutes. The song is full of gritty, 80s style synths and even more guitar patterns. The pre-chorus finds lead singer Mark Foster soaring into a whiny falsetto; I like his chest voice much better than his head voice. After a short interlude, the album kicks into a disco-inspired bit called "Best Friend," which I quite like.

The iffy falsetto and abundant electric guitar layers are back in "A Beginner's Guide to Destroying the Moon," but then Foster creates a much nicer sound as he finds himself dipping to the lower ends of his range in the chorus when he sings "Now I’m staring at the moon wondering why the bottom fell out / I’ve been searching for answers and there’s questions I’ve found / Open your eyes and share this burden somehow / Are you ready to drink / Or are you waiting to drown?"

The album takes an acoustic turn on "The Truth," with some nice harmonies while Foster chants "Save yourself, save yourself," before spiraling into some awkward bit about pimps and prostitutes. (I don't know, and I'm not asking.) And finally, the album concludes with "Fire Escape," which utilized a faint banjo or sitar, spacy, glitchy synths, and... wait for it... more electric guitars. The song concludes with one final, giant climax of all of those sounds to give the album a nice ending point.

Supermodel is just so indie that it hurts. Everything about this album perfectly fits hipsters down to a tee, right down to the inspiration of the cover art for the album, which is a mural representing a model having a breakdown and vomiting while the cameras of the media are watching her in the background even at her most vulnerable time.

It's a cohesive album, but that nostalgic, summery feeling can only go so far before sounding repetitive. I like it; I really do. I just wish some new sounds were implemented in this album. Like with Torches, there are some amazing highlights on this album that far exceed what I was expecting from Foster the People. But as a whole, I was left wanting just a little bit more.

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