Foster The People - 'Supermodel' - Cover- 2014


01. Are You What You Want To Be
02. Ask Yourself
03. Coming Of Age
04. Nevermind
05. Pseudologia Fantastica
06. The Angelic Welcome Of Mr. Jones
07. Best Friend
08. A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon
09. Goats In Trees
10. The Truth
11. Fire Escape




Being Mark Foster can be quite a tough thing. Although you must admit that there might have been worse times for the mastermind of American indie pop band FOSTER THE PEOPLE. The last three years have been more than good for Mr. Foster. The easy floating Pumped Up Kicks was one of consensus hits of 2011. A track that was just too smooth and too catchy to resist. The debut Torches surprised with a fresh mixture of dreamy indie pop, folk and new wave. Just a nice record with potential hits. FOSTER THE PEOPLE didn’t chump up with the mainstream although they weren’t afraid of it. And the mainstream wasn’t afraid of them. They entered the Billboard Top 10, scored a few Grammy nominations and also a bunch of groupies, we can imagine. Maybe even a Supermodel – which could explain the ridiculous title of their sophomore album.

No, it’s not easy being Mark Foster these days. A follow-up to such a surprising debut is always a challenge. And just in case you were afraid that the easy floating atmosphere of the debut would suffer under the pressure of its follow-up – it clearly does. But, well, it’s not the worst thing. And it’s highly understandable. ‘If I’m already in this burdening situation why not make the best out of it?’ could have been the thoughts of the band leader. And Supermodel is still a lot of FOSTER THE PEOPLE, only a bit shinier and slicker. Well, speaking of typical second album problems.

Star producer Paul Epworth (ADELE) helped Foster with the creation of that album, resulting in a fuller and way more focussed sound. Why else shouldn’t you hire such a guy? But besides the precise pop formula the album itself is described as a bit edgier by the musician. Personal issues are as well part of it as the ugly side of capitalism or our – often – unreflective relationship with modern day media. We all want to be supermodels but not ourselves. Here we have the title explained and it suddenly struck you… is there more behind the catchy pop of FOSTER THE PEOPLE than we knew?

Only partly. The band is still aiming for the radio friendly hearts of a broad audience. Opening track Are You What You Want To Be does not only come with a decent African rhythm influence but also with a big ‘Nanana’ chorus. FOSTER THE PEOPLE mix the dreamy charm of the debut with a new powerful spirit – the single Coming Of Age is symptomatic for this. ‘They say the dreamers always get what they desire’ sings Foster in the gentle Ask Yourself, leaving it open to the listener whether to agree or not. But the band clearly loves the state of dreaming. Nevermind is already quite smooth, like a warm summer breeze before Pseudologia Fantastica fully activates the psychedelic mode. It’s the band in its bravest moments. Almost like a ‘light’ version of MGMT they bend the boundaries of their pop formula.

It’s this balance that defines the second FOSTER THE PEOPLE record. Really catchy power pop like Best Friend lives side by side with dreamy and slightly psychedelic material like Goats In Trees and the reduced closing track Fire Escape. They either fully go to one side or another, leaving all options open. Bad for the coherence of the record, good for their reputation. Supermodel is an album which states that Foster isn’t ready yet to surrender to the mainstream mechanisms and is interested in pushing things forward. Not the worst you can do in his situation.

FOSTER THE PEOPLE‘s ‘Supermodel’ slightly suffers from indecisiveness but also shows some ambitious ideas within the band’s pop cosmos.

NBHAP Rating: 3/5