Foster the People is an indie alternative band from Los Angeles that was formed in 2009. The band currently consists of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mark Foster, drummer Mark Pontius, keyboardist Isom Innis, and guitarist Sean Cimino. They released their debut album Torches in 2011, which has the chart-topping hit “Pumped Up Kicks”.
This time around, Foster the People has adopted a much different sound than in their previous projects. ‘Sacred Hearts Club’ features quite the blend of varying genres. Each song has an eclectic mixture of styles swimming around within it.
On Instagram, Mark Foster said of the album, “We live in a trying time right now. Racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and religious persecution are more rampant than ever. This record was made in defiance against those cancerous ideas. Hopefully it makes you feel as it made us feel when we were working on it – that life is beautiful. And love will always be bigger than politics.”
Today, we’re going to dive into these tracks.
The first two songs on the album, “Pay the Man” and “Doing It For The Money,” are starkly different from Torches and 2014’s Supermodel. They are both very pop-like, warm, and upbeat. Both sound great for parties and the radio; however, they should not be dismissed as typical sugary pop songs.
“Pay the Man” is saying that in this time of darkness in the world, with underqualified people leading countries and combating the sheer amount of vitriol being hurled all around, we need to keep the things we love close to our hearts and stay true to ourselves. We cannot be sucked into the negativity that has been dangerously increasing lately. “Doing It For The Money,” although considerably more light-hearted, has the message of enjoying life for the fun of it, not to make money.
“S.H.C.,” “I Love My Friends,” and “Time To Get Closer” all give me 70s vibes, but in different ways. “S.H.C” most closely resembled something from ‘Torches’, but it also had a quick 70s-inspired beat and guitar in the background. “I Love My Friends” has a 70s R&B feel mixed with modern indie pop. This song is similar to something from ‘Torches’ because of its use if falsetto vocals, which were very prominent in the 2011 album. “Time To Get Closer” has both 60s and 70s vibes to it because it reminded me of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, but it also sounded like 70s R&B like “I Love My Friends”.
“Sit Next To Me” and “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” are the more EDM songs on this record. “Sit Next To Me” is EDM meets R&B meets Foster the People. It very much still resembles their unique sound, but has a few other twists and turns in it. “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” has a heavy filter over the vocals and sounds dark and angsty yet also like 90s dance music. I feel like I should be breakdancing when I listen to this track. “Harden the Paint” also has a hip hop feel that reminds me of the early 2000s hip hop, but with futuristic undertones.
“Orange Dream” sounds like spooky 80s synth pop, which is pretty awesome. The upright bass steals the show in this song, and the sparkly synth adds a gentle flair to the mix. This song is only a little over a minute long, so it really just serves as an interlude as it sits in the middle of the album.
Another song that was pretty different for the band was “Static Space Lover”. This seems to be Foster the People’s first track featuring another vocalist singing so prominently. Jena Malone’s sweet and inviting vocals help display the discourse that is present within this song. It is about two lovers that are
deeply connected with one another. “Static Space Lover” has an older sounding aura about it, but is still clearly Foster the People.
“Lotus Eater” is really the only traditional rock song. It is bright yet angry, with its delayed guitars and quick drum beats. It sounds like a blend of beach rock, grunge, and The Beatles, which sounds strange, I know. However, it is a really fun song. “Lotus Eater” greatly contrasts the more pop and hip hop songs on ‘Sacred Hearts Club’, exemplifying the range of genres on the album.
The last track on the album is called “III,” which is the same title as their EP released earlier this year. It is a chilled out, slow, relaxing tune that truly belongs on the Chill Vibes playlist on Spotify. The wet vocals and the reverb on the synth make it sound faraway and soothing. It is a calming exit from the record.
The album is mixed well, produced well, and the vocals and instrumentals are on point. I really felt like I was going through a roller coaster of different genres and eras of music, which was really fun. However, nothing about songs really stuck with me. It may take a couple more listens for me to really get into this album, but from here there is nothing too spectacular about ‘Sacred Hearts Club’.