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Foster the People - Torches Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.5
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 7.75
Production 9.5
Creativity 7
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 86%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.17
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.08
Production 9
Creativity 7.17
Lasting Value 7.92
Reviewer Tilt 8.33
Average: 82%
Inside AP.net

Foster the People - Torches

Reviewed by: Jeremy Aaron (05/24/11)
Foster the People - Torches
Record Label: Columbia
Release Date: May 24, 2011

So by now, given its chart success, you've probably heard "Pumped Up Kicks", the lead single from Foster the People's debut LP Torches, and I'd be willing to bet that either you love it or it annoys the living shit out of you. I could say something like, "the band couldn't have chosen a better single," because not only is it catchy-as-balls, it's a representative entry point to their music as a whole. I won't though, because really, they could have selected just about any track from the album, because any one of them would make a fittingly hook-filled introduction to the L.A.-based trio. In other words, "Pumped Up Kicks" is no one-hit wonder; Torches is wall-to-wall radio-ready candy. If "Kicks" is the type of tune that has you springing for the repeat button, you will warm up quite nicely to the record as a whole; if you swear to God someone's going to pay for it if you have to listen to that whistled bridge one more time, you'll want to avoid this disc at all costs. It's as simple as that, really.

I happen to fall in the former group, as Torches has sunk its teeth in and has me mindlessly head-bobbing along with its relentlessly perky beat. It seems sort of single-minded in its pursuit of sugar-coated melodies-- as much so as anything since The Kooks' last album, another polarizing release-- but it's remarkably successful in achieving its aims, and sounds much like what I suppose casual MGMT fans were hoping Congratulations was going to sound like. Despite it's perpetual chirpiness, the record isn't exactly as light as it might seem on the surface. The opener "Helena Beat" seems to hint at the meaninglessness and emptiness of the party scene, though the irony is that, unless you're looking to please a hip-hop or country crowd, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better party soundtrack than Torches. And of course, "Pumped Up Kicks" conjures up images of exacting revenge on trend-hopping posers, but again, with this set of ten electro-pop confections, Foster the People seem like quite the bunch of bandwagon jumpers themselves. Are these tongue-in-cheek jokes or actual commentary disguised as slick pop jingles? Who knows? Fuck it, who cares? As they themselves sing, "Call it what you want."

Because the way I see Torches, it's not so much music as a vehicle to convey their message, but more so just fun music for the sake of fun music, and well, you have to have lyrics, don't you? It's more than satisfactory that they don't embarass themselves with overcooked cheese, because they excel at pretty much every other aspect of the game, though by now, the rules of this game are admittedly well-established, laid out by the likes of the aforementioned MGMT and Passion Pit. The sunshiny harmonies of Mark Foster and bandmates continuously dare you not to sing, or at least hum, along, and it takes a much harder heart than mine not to oblige. I feel to a degree that my critical side should discredit Torches as being too calculated, too pitch-perfect for its own good, and a case of picking up a fumbled football and running it into the end zone. And I don't know, perhaps it is. What I do know is that after the closing notes of "Warrant", my hand is as quick as Robert's reaching for the Play button.

RIYLMGMT's Oracular Spectacular; Black Kids' Partie Traumatic; The Naked and Famous's Passive Me, Aggressive You

Track Listing1. Helena Beat (4:36)
2. Pumped Up Kicks (3:59)
3. Call It What You Want (3:58)
4. Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) (2:54)
5. Waste (3:25)
6. I Would Do Anything for You (3:34)
7. Houdini (3:22)
8. Life on the Nickel (3:35)
9. Miss You (3:32)
10. Warrant (5:23)

Preview/Buy the album at Amazon MP3.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 41
02:40 PM on 05/24/11
Holly HoX!
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Holly HoX!'s Avatar
All I have to say about this band/album is: medium
03:52 PM on 05/24/11
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NorthstarPark's Avatar
The only song I don't care for is Don't Stop, other than that it's a great fun summer party album.
04:01 PM on 05/24/11
What's a fuckass?
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TheDemosRock's Avatar
haha I don't think I could agree with this review more. I checked them out when one of the APnet guys wrote about them in his SXSW journal, and I couldn't believe that I was enjoying their EP.

Never been a fan of Passion Pit, MGMT, etc... but I can't stop listening to Torches.
04:30 PM on 05/24/11
Steeeve Perry
Pushin' th' little daisies
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Steeeve Perry's Avatar
I like Pumped Up Kicks but don't think I could stomach a whole album of it, especially as what I have heard is even more sugary.
05:55 AM on 05/25/11
Registered User
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dynamo's Avatar
you really can't take this album as more than simply a happy pop album.
i'll be jammin to it all summer.
09:00 AM on 05/25/11
Registered User
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No Avatar Selected
The only song I don't care for is Don't Stop, other than that it's a great fun summer party album.
i concur
09:31 AM on 05/25/11
Eva Friedman
I'm the girl who makes it out alive
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Eva Friedman's Avatar
Great review. I really like this album. It's not a masterpiece or anything, but it's fun as hell and it's a great listen.
09:55 AM on 05/25/11
Regular Member
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MALKiiN's Avatar
i thought the stuff on the ep was the better than the album as a whole. 3 ep songs = 9/10. rest of the songs on the new cd 5/10

maybe i need more plays
10:12 AM on 05/25/11
Registered Member
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HeavenResign's Avatar
I've actually never heard of the single or band, but I think I'm going to check this out.
10:15 AM on 05/25/11
Johnny Minardi
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Great record.
10:24 AM on 05/25/11
Find a thread to pull...
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singyoutocoma's Avatar
Fucking love it.
10:28 AM on 05/25/11
Oscillate Wildly
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drewk16's Avatar
and sounds much like what I suppose casual MGMT fans were hoping Congratulations was going to sound like.

dead on
10:43 AM on 05/25/11
Kid Amnesiac
Regular Member
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Kid Amnesiac's Avatar
I love that "Black Kids' Partie Traumatic" is in the RIYL. I actually enjoyed that album for what it was. I'll have to check these guys out.
11:18 AM on 05/25/11
they all got boyfriends anyway
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trojanick's Avatar
People don't like "Pumped Up Kicks"? Do they hate newborn babies as well?
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