21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
Like most of you, I loved Foster the People's Torches. It was such a fresh indie-pop record and it was one of my favorite albums of 2011. And also like most of you, I was scared that FTP would go through a sophomore slump with their new album. Fortunately, Supermodel is a great effort. They went for a harder alternative/psychedelic/rock sound rather than pop on this record, which might turn some of the people who liked their first album away. Mark Foster also showcases many influences with both his vocals and his music. I can hear traces of MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, The Beach Boys and Vampire Weekend. This isn't a bad thing, but the band had such a unique sound with their first LP, it's a little (just a little) disappointing to hear them go a different musical route.
Some of the highlights on this album:
"Are You Who You Want To Be?" - Really catchy opening track with a great beat. Gets stuck in your head easily.
"Coming of Age" - The album's lead single. I didn't really like it at first, but it's grown on me tremendously. It's very mellow and has the classic FTP sound.
"Pseudologia Fantastica" - Psychedelic influenced track with some great guitar work.
"Best Friend" - Probably the closest to Torches you'll get. Another fun track that reminds me of "Houdini" without the electronic sound.
"A Beginner's Guide to Destroying The Moon" - A pure rock song. Has some gritty, distorted guitar mixed with chopped up vocal loops and works out nicely.
"Fire Escape" - Beautiful song. Raw, emotional and intimate.
I would give Supermodel an 8/10 (or 4/5). If you're a Foster The People fan, you will most likely enjoy this record. It might take a little while to get used to the new sound, but in the end it will be worth it.
And for you vinyl heads, the vinyl is 180 grams and sounds great. Comes with a printed inner sleeve and a booklet containing artwork and lyrics for each track. I recommend it!
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
"I'm really excited about the new Foster the People record. It's guitar-driven." - Mark Foster
It turns out Supermodel is another great Foster the People album that opts for more guitar and less electrosynth.
I've listened to Torches over 70 times - this album around 30 or so times now. Some say Supermodel is "bloated", but, no, that's not quite true. Part of the deal with FtP music is that you have to listen twice or even more to really get the song. Pumped Up Kicks did that for Torches; it drew the crowd back for more. Unfortunately, this album doesn't have any situation like the breakout Pumped Up Kicks.
Supermodel is Foster's dive into making fun of fame, the irony of it all - "who says dreamers always get what they want", with a slightly different sound then Torches. Foster had to have known this - but in writing an album about greed and fame, he left himself open for many critics to attack Supermodel as the cliche lyrical writings of a new band's sophomore album.
With Supermodel, you'll hear Mark Foster play the acoustic (and electric) guitar much more. There even seems to not be enough electrosynth on the first listen. Now, you'll hear psychedelic (as in sound effects, not electronic dance music). But you're going to hear less of that electronic-with-humming that made Torches great (think "Call It What You Want", or perhaps "Don't Stop"). It's not that Supermodel isn't great, too. It just has a different sound from Torches.
It's this lack of consistency that is the most frustrating; it's as if you as the listener must also experience Foster the People's growing pains as they continually try unique sounds. In fact, the different sound is the only thing I can really see as a potential issue some old fans will have with this album. Foster the People is not a pop group - they are more of an indie group. It goes without saying that a pop group would have kept with the electronic-dubstep stuff that is more popular nowadays.
I also get the feeling that this album gives Foster the People some less intense songs to play at concerts. Many of the songs on Torches, with that electrosynth, would be much more difficult to coordinate on stage than some of the songs from Supermodel, which are much more guitar-based with psychedelic sound effect backgrounds. In fact, songs on the trailing end of this record are especially guilty in this effect. Foster may have had to force a little vocal exhaustion in the studio, but out on the road, "Goats in Trees" and "Fire Escape" would probably be good ways for Mark Foster to get away with a bit of vocal fatigue.
At the end, you're left with a great album - but expecting a lot of that catchy-pop and electro-psych-humming quality found on the first one will leave you troubled. You might have to adjust your expectations, and that can be personally jarring, at first. But it is worth it.
Note: "Tabloid Super Junkie", is the iTu**s exclusive, I'd find a way to listen to that one after buying the album from Amazon if I were you.
1. Are You What You Want To Be? - One of the catchiest songs on the album, and keeping with Foster the People spirit, has an upbeat theme with surprisingly dark lyrics.
"Well the first line is about seeing a young girl begging in the streets and giving her all the money I had in my pocket but not being able to truly give her what she needed, which was fixing a broken heart. The second line is a progression of the same girl, now hitting the streets to make money and sacrificing a piece of herself in the process." - Mark Foster, Reddit AMA
2. Ask Yourself - Unfortunately, this track is easy to overlook on the first 1-2 listens. This is a track that I had to listen to several times, and now it is one of my favorites.
3. Coming of Age - One of the popular released singles, and one that showcases Supermodel's extra guitar influence. You can really tell Foster the People spent some time in the studio developing new beats - and the percussion in this track is amazing and under-appreciated.
4. Nevermind - This track proves Foster the People can play a great song with very little electronic instruments. It starts off with acoustic guitar, bridges with piano, and features an electric guitar solo. A mellow tune.
5. Pseudologia Fantastica - This one teases you with just a bit of that electronic sound reminiscent of Torches. Mashes electric guitar with psychedelic synth. Great song.
6. The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones - 33 seconds of acapella. It's actually the introduction to still unreleased "The Unforeseen Welcome of Mr. Jones". You might be tempted to call this a filler track, except that Supermodel is still an album of decent length.
7. Best Friend - The most upbeat song on the record, and the most like something you'd hear on the first album, Torches. A reggae beat, mixed with a great bass line, plus electrosynth. Amusingly, the lyrics cover drug abuse: "when your best friends are strung out...", but the track is extremely happy.
8. A Beginner's Guide to Destroying the Moon - A mixture of psychedelic with grunge. The most divergent, vocals-wise, from Foster usual melodic tone. During the verse, he takes influence from The Clash's sound. At the same time, Foster still sings well, hitting a few low notes that really showcase his broad vocal range.
9. Goats in Trees - This slow-paced track seem to divide fans - some appreciate the sound, and some don't. Foster sings more in baritone, and coyote howls are the lead in and exit (literally).
10. The Truth - My favorite track on the album. Foster oscillates from baritone to a falsetto, from verse to chorus. Electosynth takes a backseat to piano and Foster's vocals, but shows up as a bridge in the middle of the song.
10. Fire Escape - Another simmering, slow-paced track, featuring the continuing trend of acoustic guitar. You can tell Foster had some lyrical inspiration, as the lyrics are slightly different from the usual. e.g ("spine is made of iron, my heart pumps out old red paint")
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
Loved the first Foster The People record, and thought for sure this would be a sophomore slump album, but I am pleasantly surprised. This album has less straight pop songs, but I really like that. It's diverse and has depth, whereas the previous album was lacking a bit in those areas. It's nice to see a band grow a bit and more interesting, without completely abandoning the sound that got you into them. Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2014
My first impression is like many other reviewers: I was expecting something similar to "Torches". When this popped up on Amazon, I bought the CD without hearing any tracks and when first played, I was initially disappointed.
Not now. After listening to the album in it's entirety I have garnered a new appreciation for the depth of sound layers, careful engineering and great lyrics that can actually be understood and can be, at times, very tongue-in-cheek, awesome stuff.
And to add, it's recorded well and that's seriously important in this day and age of crapular sounding CDs, more the norm now than the exception, sigh. Someone spent some serious, meticulous time in the recording studio, for sure.
I won't give it 5 stars, more a 4.5. Recommended but give it time.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
I've been eagerly waiting for this release for a couple of years now. I absolutely loved Torches and it might be the album I've played the most - ever. I can say I was anxious about Supermodel because I could not imagine how it could tie or top Torches. I guess I underestimated their genius.
Supermodel is a wonderful album from start to finish. It's addictive and for lack of a better word feels exotic too. There are more medium - slow tempo songs than on Torches but what they lack in speed they make up for in melody, instrumentation, vocals and lyrics. Pseudologia Fantastica makes you feel like you are in a wild colorful dream... The faster songs are absolute ear worms, in the same vein as the best songs on Torches (Best friend for example which features an extremely Clash like bass line).
The way the tracks are arranged is perfect, you never get bored. They flow into each other effortlessly and before you know it you're already on track 7.
They put a lot of thought and love into Supermodel. I literally got emotional hearing this album because it turned out to be so much more than I could have imagined. Listen to it, you won't regret it. Thank you Foster the People.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2014
Its nothing new to say that I was introduced to this magnificent band by their breakout single "Pumped Up Kicks" in 2011. I heard the song before it broke out and I just knew it was going to be a phenomenon. Then their debut album "Torches" was released shortly after. It was a good soundtrack for my weeks leading to my graduation from High School and the summer ahead. Many have called the sound of the album "Perfect Pop" and it was so unique. They sounded familiar yet different at the same time. The rest of the album proved that there was more to the band than just "Pumped Up Kicks". I couldn't wait for what they had in store for their next album. I was a fan. Well nearly 4 years after that classic album graced the world, they finally released a new single "Coming of Age" leading up to a new album. I liked the song, but like many, I found myself comparing it to their most popular song. It didn't become a huge hit outside of alternative radio sadly. Another song was released called "Psuedologia Fantastica" which had a psychedelic vibe. I brushed that song off as well at first. I'm disappointed in myself to say that I skipped on buying this album when it initially came out based on lackluster reviews. I previewed the songs and they didn't click right away for me enough to buy it. I had for the first time in a long time, trusted the critics without even giving it a chance and I regret that now. Months later, I heard the second official single "Best Friend" and I liked it immediately. I then began reading more reviews of the album out of curiosity to see if I had been wrong in dismissing it before. I began seeing a lot more positive reviews and then I listened to each song for the first time. I was impressed. So I finally gave in and purchased the album for the summer of 2014. Better late than never. Here's a track by track review.
1. Are You What You Want To Be?: The opener of the album starts things off with good guitar work before the verses change up and sound more like something of African influence and also similar to some of the tracks from the first album. The chorus is a grower, but the background vocals of "la laa laaa" are catchy right away. The ending of the song is peaceful, if only it lasted longer! 9/10
2. Ask Yourself: The song contains one of the immediate departures from the first album, which is a prominent acoustic guitar. The guitar literally glides through the song along with Fosters vocals. I think I hear some violins during the second verses too and they sound great. The chorus is anthem worthy, but still nothing groundbreaking. I love the guitar solo with the bands signature "woo hoo hoo"! 9.5/10
3. Coming of Age: At first I didn't think this was an amazing single to promote the album. But I hear it now and it just hits me harder and harder each time. It's a true gem and now I'm certain it could've been a bigger hit than it was. The guitar riff is so catchy it reminds me of the 80s a bit. The percussion is also nicely done. I have to again mention the ending containing the "woo hoo hoo hoos". Great summer track! 10/10
4. Nevermind: More acoustic guitars and relaxing vocals. This track really makes me feel like just saying 'nevermind'. The chorus sounds like a angst filled anthem from the 90s, in a good way! Very different from the first albums material. I'd love to hear more of this sound in future releases. Multiple listens reveal more hidden aspects to the song as with most good songs. The title of the song brings to mind "Nirvana", which is nice as the ending of the song has a grungy vibe almost! 9.5/10
5. Psuedologia Fantastica: The second song released prior to the album but not as a real single. At first I didn't really like it that much. But now that I have reassessed the album I have grown to really like this trippy anthem! Many have compared it to MGMT, which I disagree with. I just love the trippy feel of the song. The synths and guitars are great. 9/10
6. The Angelic Welcome Of Mr. Jones: One of the longest titles is the shortest song. I don't really like it. Its just an Acapella, but not really a good one. No rating.
7. Best Friend: I believe this song could save the album from being a commercial failure if it continues to hit the airwaves. Its catchy and the lyrics are easy to relate to. The funky disco guitars remind me of "Rollercoaster of Love" a bit. There is even a small section toward the end that really makes me think of "Miss Me" from the first album. 10/10
8. A Beginners Guide To Destroying The Moon: The title itself just gives me this imagery in my head similar to Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie. The distorted guitars even sorta remind me of "1979". The song was a grower for me at first. The vocals reach highs and lows in a cleverly executed way. The song gets so much better with repeated listens. It's pretty much a masterpiece in my opinion. 10/10
9. Goats in Trees: Many seem to like this song the least for some reason. I love the acoustic guitars which take over again. The vocals and lyrics are strange and mysterious. Then toward the end the vocals get hauntingly beautiful in a weird way. The chorus sounds just like what an acoustic FTP song should sound like. Its almost heartbreaking in a good way. I love it. 9.5/10
10. The Truth: For some reason this is my favorite song on the album. Its instruments are very distorted, but it works so well. The chorus is so haunting and hard to understand without looking at the lyrics, but its the best chorus on the album for me! There's even a part of his vocals in the chorus that almost resembles Bono when he sing-talks "there is a truth". Just a strangely beautiful song. The song just gives me this feeling that I really can't explain. 10/10
11. Fire Escape: The best of the acoustic songs. Just a gorgeous and calm ending to the album. It's just a perfect closer. 10/10
So this was a truly different album from their debut, but also somewhat similar at times. I think one reason the critics didn't connect was because they listened to the album once, then didn't like that it didn't sound just like the first album and they just dismissed it. I know I did at first. Another reason the album might not have been as eventful was because they waited too long. During the years between this and their first outing, there have been many new bands and new sounds in the music world and a lot of people just forgot about FTP. I really hope something saves this from being a sophomore slump. It has a good collection of meaningful songs that tell a story. I love concept albums like this. The naysayers are going too hard on this album. In some ways, I find this album better than Torches. I don't skip a single song other than the interlude. There are at least 3 songs on Torches that I just loath. Every song is a gem. Hipsters and haters can call it pretentious and a disappointment, but I'll call it a masterpiece and the most underrated album of 2014. I hope this is considered a classic in the years to come as it already is for me. Recommended for music lovers and FTP fans, as long as you open your mind and give it multiple listens to allow it to steal you away!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2015
One of my favorite albums of the past year. Maybe a couple of tracks at the end don't do it for me but lots of great songs here the standouts being "Brest Friend", "Coming of Age", "Beginners Guide To Destroying the Moon", and "Psuedologia Fantastica". Besides the general catchiness of the songs there is some great rhythm and bass guitar work and some wonderfully understated lead guitar. Some major publications, i.e., Spin and Rolling Stone, (among others) reviewed this album negatively. I guess we all experience the world differently but it makes me wonder what album they were listening to.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Here's my 5-star vote for a great second album by Foster The People. Anybody who's heard Foster interviewed knows he's smart. When Jian Ghomeshi, the Canadian radio host of "Q," asked him if he felt pressure to write another "Pumped Up Kicks," Foster said no. He said he had new stuff to say, and he wasn't going to stand still to meet the public's expectations. I've read numerous reviews and fan complaints about this very fact. FTP's first album, "Torches," was a beautifully produced commercial blockbuster with a sound that made people happy and they wanted more of same. The irony is that the very thing that made "Torches" great, namely Foster's talent, compels him to keep growing creatively. FTP will never produce cookie-cutter reproductions of itself. This is something to celebrate, not complain about.
"Supermodel" arose out of two years of touring, visiting foreign countries, including Morocco and India, seeing how other folks live and absorbing new musical influences. The first song, "Are You What You Wanna Be," has a great Afro-pop vibe to it, as well as a personal/political message. "Nevermind" reminds me of Brazilian samba, with its big unison chorus. There's a snippet of a Beach Boys tribute in the a cappella "Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones." It's a little pitchy, but trying to reproduce the famous Beach Boys blend ain't easy. As a big Beach Boys fan, I give FTP an A for effort on this one. (Having listened to the whole record in order many times, I think the purpose of "Mr. Jones" is to be an intermission, dividing the record in half. Its sound is completely different from anything else, it's light, it's short, and it transforms the mood entirely.) The end of "Act 1," as it were, is the standout track "Pseudologia Fantastica" -- ambitious, dramatic, almost orchestral, full of beautiful melodies, heavy textures and hard emotions. But great dance hooks are not dead and gone. "Coming of Age" and "Best Friend" are excellent examples, two deep songs with a groove to match.
Foster shows himself to be a vocal shapeshifter who can change the sound of his voice to fit the style of the song. On "A Beginner's Guide..." he dips down into his baritone register, which sounds amazing. The guy can really sing. Overall, the mixture of pop, rock `n roll, and world beats is really interesting. There are electronic effects and samples but it feels organic. Lots of unexpected melodies and harmonies. The guitar is featured in different styles, and acts like another voice that changes from song to song. "Ask Yourself" and "Beginner's Guide" have beautiful guitar bridges. I like the acoustic moments, especially in the haunting last song ("Fire Escape"), which expresses the pathos that underlies a lot of Foster's writing.
As with "Pumped Up Kicks," the lyrics are heavy, but the music is mostly upbeat. If you like to delve into lyrics, you'll hear more of Foster's pet topics: merciless self-scrutiny, how to deal with fear, the importance of living an authentic life despite the risks, the dangers of addiction and depression, and how easy it is to lose one's way in a superficial world that values money and looks over inner substance. And now there's a political call to action as well. "Are You What You Want to Be" refers to Nigerian activist-musician Fela Kuti, "dissidents" and "the war machine." Not just ear candy, this.
"Supermodel" is inspired. It's a sophisticated, inventive, complex and beautiful set of songs that's also very emotional. But it's not "Torches." "Supermodel" is something different, from a talented group with an expanded vision of the music they want to make. For fans with open ears and hearts who are paying attention, "Supermodel" is not only different, but really good.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2014
I liked the album; a couple of tracks were not up to the rest of the album. I like their first album more.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
It's easy to be nervous about the second album of a band that you really like, but have no fear!
FTP seems to be branching out and trying new sounds and new subject matter. There's a lot of new types of instrumentation that we didn't hear on Torches, heavier guitar in Beginner's Guide, soft mellow acoustics in Fire escape, but there is still the groovy peppy upbeat stuff spread around in the album. Mark Foster hits some uncharacteristic low notes and even evokes a little Bowie in places, but he still sounds like Mark Foster.
Torches was an amazing album, but I'm really glad that there's some new stuff in here. Even as awesome as the last album was it's nice to have some new material that stands out a little. Really love A Beginner's Guide to Destroying the Moon. Killer album all around.
Been listening to this album for the last few days. It is still amazing, but there might be a small downside that I can see, and that I've also made provisions for. FTP is trying out new stuff in Supermodel, and personally I think that they could easily be successful with any one or maybe several of their new directions. Already it makes me want more of each new direction they are exploring to flesh out and fully satisfy these new cravings.
My solution right now is to put Supermodel and Torches as well as some of the miscellaneous singles and bonus tracks, etc, into one playlist and put it on random. Since I can't have a big 'ol pile of this great new stuff I want to feast on, it does very well as the everything-on-it type of arrangement for a Torches based pizza.