Like a few people, I imagine, my first experience of Foster the People was coupled with my first experience of the ‘bum dance’ as performed by Greg James on his show on Radio 1. Okay, so that sounds a lot weirder than it actually is, Greg chose the band’s first single, Pumped Up Kicks as his record of the week and then danced to it… Just watch the video and hopefully everything will make more sense then.
Anyway, once I’d gotten over Greg’s wondrous dance moves I realised how great the track was, it’s got a really summery vibe and is just nice and mellow. So, on my impulse buying spree earlier in the month I bought the album and, friends, I was not disappointed.
The first track, Helena Beat, slowly builds up and by the time the vocals come in you’ve already got a smile on your face. And when the vocal comes in you may be a bit taken aback, Mark Foster’s voice has a really unique sound which might shock you, especially as he’s often singing in higher registers, but it just adds to the mellow feel of the whole album. This song just makes me want to do some kind of strange dancing that only true hipsters (of which I am not one) would get away with.
Track numero duo is the aforementioned single and it’s just great. To me, this whole album sounds like a holiday; it makes me feel like I should be dancing to it on some American beach with a cooler full of ‘soda’ and some California girls and this track is the epitome of that.
The third song, Call It What You Want, starts somewhat differently with a very strange noise that sounds like someone has let some air out of a bottle of cola or something and a delightful little piano riff. This song is faster-paced than the previous two but the dampened drums and Mark Foster’s voice make sure it’s still in keeping with the rest of the album.
Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls) also brings a bit of variety to the album, with no sign of the band’s trusty drum patterns but the introduction of an acoustic guitar instead. Also, instead of the usual rousing, sing-a-long chorus there’s the catchy little ‘ooh’ phrase that you can’t help but join in with.
The halfway point on the album, Waste, is a bit more melancholy than the previous tracks and show a different side to the band. It’s pretty bare, with just the lead vocal and a drum pattern in the voices and reminds me of something off Lykke Li’s first album, Youth Novels. The next track, I Would Do Anything For You has much the same feel, though with a few more layers.
Houdini sees a return to the upliftingness (is that even a word? It is now) of the beginning of the album though the chorus adds a bit of difference. Life on the Nickel, however, sounds like a completely different band and I’m sure they stole that synth from Toploader…
The final two tracks continue with this strange sound explosion, with Coldplay’s keyboard from Fix You being used in Miss You and what sounds like a church choir in the final track, Warrant. Once you get over that though they are two more excellent tracks, not quite as mellow and beach-y as the first two but relaxing nonetheless.
I think if you don’t listen to this kind of music a lot some of the tracks might be a bit interchangeable, but if you like artists like Lykke Li and maybe a bit of James Blake then I definitely recommend getting this album.
Best Track: Pumped Up Kicks
Worst Track: Life On The Nickel