The problem with "Supermodel," Foster The People's newly released sophomore album, is that it's unexpected.
After their debut album "Torches," the band made a public foundation for itself based off the radio hit "Pumped Up Kicks." The song had messages dabbling in thoughts of death and other emotional troubles, which was a theme among the rest of the songs on the album. The 2011 release also maintained a thorough grasp on a developed sound of catchy choruses and electronic-sounding beats, all impressive in a live production.
However, the path Foster The People developed with its first album apparently lead down a similar path but on a different map. Depending on what the listener wants to hear, "Supermodel," released March 14, could either be a major disappointment or the best album of the year so far.
With their first single "Coming of Age," it was clear the band was reaching to exotic, worldly influences in its production. The track begins as if it was being played behind a wall, then brings in the rough electric guitar and the strong drums in the background.
Mark Foster, the lead singer and producer on this album, uses his unique, verging-on falsetto voice to emote sadness and disappointment through lyrics like "I tend to leave a trail of death while I'm moving ahead." The song is the catchiest off the album and probably the most likable for the band's pop radio-listening audience. That isn't true for the rest of the album.
Each subsequent track dabbles in electronic sounds combined with the basic raw instrument recordings which can be rough at first but ease as the album plays. This element in the band's sound is common to what they developed on "Torches" and is especially seen in the song "Best Friend." Definitely a song suitable for a car commercial, this track is likeable and upbeat, unlike the track "Fire Escape" which has a much more instrumental feel.
Thematically, it seems Foster The People have matured. Rather than chatting about strippers or popping molly, the songs express discontent with consumerism and capitalism. They point out a major flaw in social media: everyone feels like they must be a supermodel in order to be liked. Not overproduced and not overworked, the 48 minute long album has a lot to offer listeners.
After Foster The People's debut three years ago, much was left to be desired. Their indie sound was rocking the radio waves much unlike other artists in their genre, and fans could finally experience their music in the way pop fans do and have been for years. But "Supermodel" proves that their focus on creating a strong message took some attention away from providing something likeable for their collective, general audience.
On the other hand, this album contains 11 fantastic tracks. Each is unlike the other, yet form a whole that expresses a common theme on politics and society. From poetic lyrics to unique song structures, the tracks are creative and different and simply sound like something that is new and up-and-coming in the music industry.
The public may love the album or hate it – Foster The People could be remembered as the "Pumped Up Kicks" one-hit-wonder band. Either way, "Supermodel" is worth a listen, at least for fans to develop their own opinions about it.