Coming out three years after their debut album Torches, Foster the People have released Supermodel. Twelve tracks of what I would call “introspective-electropop”. Not entirely sure if that makes sense even to me, but after what was one of my favorite albums of 2011, Supermodel plays as if it’s trying to differentiate itself but using the same tools as last time. It’s hard to talk about Supermodel in a vacuum, wanting to give credit to the new music without constantly comparing it to Torches, but since Foster the People only have the one album to go off of as a body of work, it’s the only bouncing off point. Supermodel isn’t so drastically different that you can just ignore the previous album, and in truth, it’s hard to pull that off. I can only think of one band right away (Brand New) that sounds sonically and tonally different album to album yet remain consistent. So should you listen to Supermodel? Yes.
Right off the bat, the first few tracks sound almost like a continuation of Torches. It felt like putting on my favorite pair of Converse after not wearing them for a while. There is a decent groove to be had while listening to Supermodel then after a while, groove just isn’t enough. You don’t mind that groove came to the party, but now groove is double dipping in the salsa and drinking all the good beer when he only brought Bush.
It seems weird to complain about an album having a “groove” but that’s where the Torches comparisons come back into play. Their 2011 album was able to pull off a balance of bounce-pop and chill-out that made for a very easy listen. Being one for the few albums I could listen to front-to-back and skip nary a track. I find I don’t necessarily want to skip tracks on Supermodel but I do wonder how long I’ve been listening to certain songs. It also seems clear that lead singer and mind behind most of the music, Mark Foster, is trying to make a statement here, akin to MGMT and their Congratulations album. The message is more hit than miss, but it’s sadly, easily ignored.
There is no surprise hit like “Pumped Up Kicks” or a deconstruction/celebration or program-pop like “Houdini”(my personal favorite), Supermodel just kind of sits there waiting for a date that never shows up to show it a good time. On Torches you could tell Foster the People was having just as much playing it, as we were listening to it, this album is fun, but more in the way a basement party is fun with your parents constantly coming down to check on things. As the album plays on it starts to become clear that Foster the People are clearly trying NOT to sound like themselves, but you can’t fight what you are.
Given the amount of music on the album (12 tracks) and their level of cohesiveness, Supermodel is easily thrown into a playlist and played in the background of a small gathering. Maybe even a low impact gym trip, but don’t expect to get the party hype with this one, groove is here to tell you a story that you had to be there for.
Worth a Listen: Nevermind, Are You What You Want to Be, A Beginners Guide to Destroying the Moon