Album review: Foster the People’s ‘Torches’

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People just seem to find Mark Foster. The severely cheekboned singer-producer was first championed as a solo artist as an underling of Dr. Dre. But after snagging a major management deal as a virtual unknown, a sold-out residency at the Echo and a career-pivoting Coachella slot for his inspirationally monikered synthpop project Foster the People, the band finally has an album to go with all the early looks.

“Torches” hits with the same indie-nerdy danceability as their peers in Passion Pit, but with a pleasantly laconic delivery. The reputation-making single “Pumped Up Kicks” cakes Foster in Strokes-y vocal distortion atop a loping synth bass; “Houdini” has a Blondie-worthy bomp and giddy little house pianos. Electronic-informed music can often go off the rails with experimentalism, so it’s nice that Foster keeps his ear on sharp pop songwriting and crisp productions. But much of “Torches” doesn’t aim much higher than being a fizzy soundtrack for windows-down elbow tans. Which is fine, but for all his ease at getting attention, hopefully Foster will want to command it more thoroughly.

Foster the People
Two and a half stars (Out of four)


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