A time existed when genres of music lay comfortable and inviolable in their respective provinces, like Trivial Pursuit segments – distinct, isolated; divergent strands of a greater musical whole.
The Internet changed that – tearing down partitions between sub-categories of music as it shrugged its digital shoulders at out-dated notions of distance and geography.
Foster The People’s genre-straddling 2011 debut ‘Torches’ (review) catapulted them to the frontline of bands that, along with artists like Sleigh Bells and MGMT, were rethinking the DNA blueprint of the modern pop song.
‘Supermodel’ largely echoes the ‘Torches’ template of blissfully blending genres into a churning whirlpool of euphoric pop: most tracks are overflowing with trademark sky-scraping synths, star-cradling melodies, and distorted guitars. They stray from this formula on the stripped-back ‘Fire Escape’ and ‘Goats In Trees’ – with mixed results.
The uplifting instrumentation is often at odds with the dark themes explored: ‘Pseudologia Fantastica’ deals with a PTSD-suffering war veteran’s return home to his family; ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon’ hints at the cost of the dark side of capitalism.
Although ‘Supermodel’ is derivative – parts of ‘Are You What You Want To Be’ could easily pass as a mediocre Vampire Weekend song – it’s more often inventively imitative, rather than devolving into out-and-out mimicry.
Ultimately this is an unashamedly vibrant collection of variegated pop songs best enjoyed during a dancefloor freak-out. As frontman Mark Foster sings on the outro of the priceless indie-pop pizazz of standout track ‘Pseudologia Fantastica’: “You’ve got to love the madness of the feeling.”
Words: Benji Taylor
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