Lighting a Fire Under Your Feet
By Ben Gonzalez
There are certain artists which make us think, bands which make us question reality, and let’s all thank god that there are bands which just make us want to dance. Breakout artists Foster the People do just that in 2011’s Torches. Yes, “Pumped Up Kicks” is played about three million times a day on the radio (which by default makes them uncool in hipster speak), but lets face it—Foster the People kick ass. By far 2011’s breakout band of the year, Foster the People’s Torches may be the best indie/electronica record since MGMT’s debut Oracular Spectacular.
Torches commences with the synth driven “Helena Beat” and immediately cues the listener in on two important things; one, Foster the People are here, and two, they are here to make you dance. Yet, Foster the People are able to walk the precarious line between being a dance band and being artists. Where other bands fail to coalesce the two, Foster the People find a balance that comes off as both honest and shockingly compelling.
“Pumped Up Kicks,” the reason for the bands success, and the proverbial “golden nugget” to the fat cats at Columbia records, may make you grind your teeth at the first sounds of the catchy bass riff that opens the song, but it nevertheless sheds a great amount of insight into the record as a whole. Foster the People are offering shockingly catchy riffs with just enough musical prowess to make the listener come back for seconds, possibly thirds, and that’s after we’ve all been force fed their music for the past six months.
Moving on, Torches continues its upbeat songs with a trio of gems in “Call it What You Want,” “Don’t Stop,” and “Waste.” What makes Torches impossible to overly critique is in its seeming disregard for being critiqued in the first place. They know what they are, what they want to play, and what they want to make their fans do—dance. Twenty five minutes into the record your ready to get out of your car, office cubicle, or end your run prematurely and call some of your friends to rekindle the youthful vigor that emblazes Torches.
Whether or not Torches is the best album of 2011 is beside the point. Foster the People aren’t trying to make you understand the pain and suffering in the world, or articulate your darkest fears for you. Fuck that. They are simply making you forget that all of that crap exists for forty minutes, and to that I say amen. So, if your feeling a little rowdy and want to blow off some steam, give me a call, and bring a copy of Torches to bump on our way downtown.