In May 2011, Foster the People released their first studio album Torches, which moved sound waves in fast, fluid motion and changed the whole concept of genre based music.
With Mark Foster on vocals, keyboards, piano, synthesizers, guitars, programming and percussion, Mark Pontius on drums and extra percussion and Cubbie Fink on bass and backing vocals, this trio formed a tour de force for music lovers of all kinds.
Torches is an album that every single ear in the world should be able to hear. Many people may have heard their two most popular tracks on the record “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Color on the Walls (Don’t Stop).” “Pumped Up Kicks” became quite popular because of its upbeat sound, yet downtrodden meaning, about a psychopathic youth. “Color on the Walls (Don’t Stop)” was featured on a Nissan Versa Sedan Headroom commercial, so you may have heard it without knowing. Either way, the rest of the album is just as good and just as groundbreaking.
Other tunes such as “Helena Beat” have strong electronic beats and provide positive reinforcement. In this album opener, Mark Foster shows the diversity of his singing voice, as it is very effeminate, but in the best possible way.
More skews of genres appear in “Call it what you Want,” a song denouncing labels, perhaps those concerning particular musical genres and even labels placed upon every single object, idea or person. But this melody, is very much techno, very much pop and very much difficult to label. So, “Call it what you want.”
One of my personal favorites titled “Waste” is another piece of electronica with uplifting riffs, whilst remaining lyrically incandescent.
Another called “Houdini” begins with clapping and remains upbeat throughout, even though the song contains lyrics such as “Sometimes I want to disappear.” I suppose there is a such thing as a good disappear and perhaps that is what the song is implying. Either way, this tune is extremely upbeat. It makes you want to dance, even if you’re a white girl with no rhythm who can’t really dance.
“Hustling (Life on the Nickel)” is by all means the worst on the album, though still not bad, just not my favorite. “Miss You” is this album’s love song with heavier rock elements combined with Foster’s ever-more effeminate voice.
The album ends with “Warrant,” by far the heaviest song. The drums are intense, as well as the lyrics.
All in all, Foster the People’s Torches is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. It should be heard, and it should be heard by the masses. I am certain that Foster the People will go on to continually prove that there is no such thing as a genre as far as their music is concerned. I see nothing but good things to come from them. They are one of the best new bands of 2011, and there is no denying that.