Supermodel is the long-awaited and highly anticipated new album from Californian trio Foster the People. Mark Foster and company stormed their way into the charts in 2010 with the massive single Pumped Up Kicks – so elegantly crafted into a dance-inducing indie-pop hit that no-one seemed to mind that it was a song about a kid bringing a gun to school to shoot his classmates. Proving they were more than a one-hit wonder, the boys released four more successful singles (Helena Beat, Call It What You Want, Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls), Houdini) from their genre-defying first album Torches (2011) and cemented their place as one of the biggest names in the business.
The down-side of putting together a debut album as imaginative and successful as Torches is trying to follow it up with something equally as brilliant, if not better. Supermodel is a solid attempt at doing just that but is likely to disappoint anyone expecting more of the same from the boys. The latest release is one that becomes better with each listen as we appreciate its creativity and shift towards an intriguing brand of psychedelic indie rock.
Supermodel begins familiarly with Are You What You Want To Be? which has an upbeat rhythm and chorus providing a feel similar to Torches’ Houdini. The verses hint at a change in direction and style as they offer an interesting, somewhat tribal-sounding beat before erupting into the dance-floor ready chorus.
The next track Ask Yourself offers a blend of acoustic guitar and synth beats as Foster asks “Is this the life you’ve been waiting for?” before the first single Coming of Age slows the pace slightly. Coming of Age begins slowly, subtly showing off Mark Foster’s distinctive vocals before progressing into a catchy and upbeat dance track.
That “psychedelic indie rock” I mentioned earlier becomes apparent in Pseudologia Fantastica and the 30-second The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones as the album takes an unexpected sharp turn away from its earlier indie-pop sound and takes a creative leap into the world of psychedelia.
Around the middle of the album lies Best Friend, which is a true highlight of Supermodel. It is a catchy, upbeat tune and becomes the third single released off the album, sure to be a huge hit. It is a great blend of old and new, mixing elements of Torches with elements of the new direction to create a single which represents the new album well.
Another highlight comes in the closing track Fire Escape which is the most tame-sounding song on the album but is simply beautiful. The song sees Mark Foster sing in a slightly lower tone than usual which works wonderfully in the acoustic track.
Those expecting a repeat of Torches are likely to be unimpressed with Supermodel as the albums are quite different, but by no means is that a negative thing. Supermodel is a solid collection which sees Foster the People explore new directions as they continue to produce music which can’t be contained into a single category and continue to do their own thing without letting genre guidelines limit their music or creativity.