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Album review: Foster the People’s ‘Supermodel’

The one-time hitmakers play it safe on overwrought sophomore effort.

By Blake Beck | March 26, 2014

Tags: Music Reviews

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Foster the People became an afterthought faster than they became a thought.

The Los Angeles-based trio found overnight success with 2011’s Torches, but once the hype subsided, became little more than a blip on the radar. The band’s designation as a one-hit wonder all but solidified.

Mark Foster and company refuse to accept these terms. The alt-rock outfit’s sophomore record, Supermodel finds the band trying to rekindle the magic of its LP, but to no avail. Where Torches was loaded from top to bottom with radio-friendly tunes, Supermodel is bloated with opaque and prosaic indie-pop fodder.

Described to Rolling Stone by Mark Foster himself as “polarizing,” there is nothing controversial here. The band has only added layers of psychedelic glut over its core sound, and the effort is akin to MGMT’s dazzling Oracular Spectacular sans the ambition and galvanizing hooks. It’s a failed attempt to increase the artistic value of the band’s synthpop regimen, but it only makes for an uncomfortable listen.

Truth be told, this isn’t a complete disaster. Bare-bone cuts like “Nevermind” and “Goats in Trees” give your ears some much-needed R&R. The latter is undoubtedly Foster’s greatest piece, with his singsong voice — resembling that of Foxygen’s Sam France — accompanying you through a star-filled psychedelic haven.

Foster’s songwriting has improved, but only to an extent. He tackles lofty topics with a heavy hand, but all too often his earnest lyrics come off as insipid and fatuous. On “A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon,” the frontman scowls, “We’ve been crying for a leader / To speak like the old prophets,” like the kid on Twitter who tries to be ambiguous and “deep.”

The potential highlighted by the neo-psychedelic hit “Pumped Up Kicks” is M.I.A. on Supermodel. I don’t know — perhaps Torches was a fluke? Or maybe I’ve grown up? I was a sophomore in high school when it was released, mind you.

Either way, Foster the People has fallen off the indie-pop precipice of success.

MOVE gives Supermodel 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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