Foster the People Torches Review

Released 2011.  

BBC Review

A debut of MGMT-like magic to leave you pumped up for more.

Mark Beaumont 2011

Indie rock is undergoing a much-needed regeneration of late. Reedy guitars hold less sway, funk punk is finally packing up its cowbell and the glum cells of black-clad doom-mongers imitating Ian Curtis because they can’t actually sing are headed for the shadowy obscurity to which they so tediously aspired. In their place comes a disco nous, hints of Afrobeat and MGMT psychedelia. LA-based Foster the People are the culmination of that transformation; the Matt Smith of the new indie.

Envisioning themselves as a more populist and accessible Animal Collective, they adapt AC’s art-tronic adventurousness to incorporate the funky danceability of Scissor Sisters, the fuzzy pop catchiness of Kids and the knack of throwing in deceptively downbeat twists akin to Girls, Sleigh Bells or Smith Westerns. Current single Pumped Up Kicks is a prime example, with singer Mark Foster trilling "You’d better run / Faster than my bullet" to a psychedelic block party skipping tune that seems to have dropped off the end of Oracular Spectacular, giving the impression of the cheeriest schoolyard gunman ever.

That’s the darkest corner of Foster’s psyche illuminated by Torches; elsewhere, there’s considerably more levity. Call It What You Want is full-on trance pop complete with disco piano and hip hop squiggles, and Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls) is peak-era Dandy Warhols right down to the clap-along guitars and jubilant disregard for the laws of the land. By the time I Would Do Anything for You rolls around with its sunny, Auto-Tuned ode to blossoming romance you’d be forgiven for deciding FTP are the MGMT who’ll never prog-out on you.

After Houdini sees Torches deliver its own sparking Electric Feel, however, the latter section of the album reveals them as a far more promising and intriguing proposition. Life on the Nickel is a falsetto pop chant swathed in grime clicks and crunches, and Miss You sounds like Chris Martin lost and alone at a pagan rave; both suggest that FTP might soon pioneer a transatlantic fusion of dance and indie aesthetics that threatens to merge and rejuvenate both genres like no act since The Rapture. Time will tell, but this opening salvo will certainly leave you pumped up for further Foster kicks.

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