Foster The People’s ‘Supermodel’: Album Review

Kathy Iandoli | March 18, 2014 5:15 am
Ever since Foster The People arrived with their debut single “Pumped Up Kicks” in 2010, it was clear that the band rooted for the underdogs. Partly because they are the underdogs — or were. The success of the Los Angeles outfit’s 2011 debut Torches was directly attributed to that surprisingly dark song about being high school outcasts (which ultimately became the teen angst anthem of 2012). What happens, though, when you’re no longer the aliens? When the cool kids’ table becomes your new home? Well, in FTP’s case, they still feel disconnected from the crowd. So Supermodel (out ) is just as lonely as you’d expect it to be. Sometimes having it all doesn’t equate to having what you need.

The title alone of opening track “Are You What You Want To Be?” poses an important question for the ambivalent. To the tune of tribal drums and anthemic guitar licks, the song channels a ’70s rock vibe while still housing poppy chants. The theme continues with “Ask Yourself,” a mid-tempo exercise questioning the band’s fame. It feels like indie rock’s answer to Drake, where the looming question “Is it worth it?” hangs like a towel on a hotel doorknob, only FTP don’t seem to drown their sorrows in strippers. Their poison is still self-deprecation, but executed in the best way possible.

Supermodel‘s lead single “Coming Of Age” directs the attention toward their treatment of others, as they “leave a trail of death while moving ahead” and “seem to hurt the people that care the most.” It’s vulnerable, yet a hard idea to purchase when the band has endured monumental success in a relatively short amount of time. The search for answers continues on “Nevermind,” but a trippy break ensues for “Pseudologia Fantastica” which is the fancy scientific diagnosis for a pathological liar. A weird off-tempo segue called “The Angelic Welcome Of Mr. Jones” introduces the disco-fied “Best Friend.” And while “A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon” sounds like a Panic! At The Disco song title, the track sounds more like it belongs to Rooney or Klaxons, or even Imagine Dragons. It’s still damn good though, even when it’s numbed by “Goats In The Trees” and even further with “The Truth” and slowed-all-the-way-down closer “Fire Escape,” which all make a hard turn into folky territory.

It’s obvious through Foster The People’s Supermodel that the band is going through some growing pains. Perhaps relationships from “before they were famous” are changing and the symptoms of success are turning from a summer cold into the swine flu, leaving listeners with the classic “transition” album. One thing is certain: lead singer Mark Foster‘s vision for the band is changing, evidenced by this album’s shift in sounds and era/genre cross-pollination. Any road he takes could very well be spectacular, he just needs to choose one and stick to that path for an entire project.

Best Song That Wasn’t the Single: “A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon” could easily be a cover song by another band, but that’s okay because its pretty little synths and rocky guitar licks are a recipe for success.

Best Listened To: While destroying the moon. Duh.

Idolator Score: 3/5

Kathy Iandoli

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