With their second studio album, Supermodel (released March 14th on Columbia Records), Foster the People has departed from the light, upbeat sound of Torches, replacing techno beats and airy vocals with a much more stripped down, heavier, instrumental, resulting in a raw and very real album. And it totally works.
Supermodel is an angrier follow-up to its predecessor and proves that Foster the People is not in a sophomore slump—this second album is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Supermodel is angry, brash, bold, unafraid, and raw, with cryptic lyrics alluding to growing up and coming to terms with unforgiving fame in a greedy world.
Many of the songs, such as “A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon” urge the listener to “think freely” and “smash the wall of apathy”, breaking free from the world which they have discovered to be petty and fake.
Self-fulfillment and satisfaction with personal success are also recurring themes that run rampant in Supermodel, with such tracks as “Are You What You Want to Be?” and “Ask Yourself” in which they inquire, “is this the life you’ve been waiting for?” They offer their own experiences by reflecting, “Well I find the more I want, the less I’ve got.” The evolution of the band as a mid-level act coming to terms with not just indie stardom, but shooting to the top of the pop music charts, is obvious and clearly drives the music on this second album.
However, the upbeat rhythms and unbelievably bright melodies juxtaposed with dark lyrics that we have come to associate with FTP have certainly not fallen by the wayside. Tracks such as “Pseudologia Fantasia” (which is a term used to describe pathological lying) and “Best Friend” are reminiscent of Torches, with danceable grooves and surprisingly grave lyrics. Yet these songs are composed with heavier undertones and even darker, more cryptic lyrics.
The 30-second, vocal only track, “The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones” provides a nice intermission for the rest of the album, and the acoustic and very introspective track “Goats in Trees” breaks up the impassioned guitar-heavy tracks with a thoughtful, lyrical piece in which they bear their souls and refuse to shy away from such contradictions as “Don’t give up on me now, and I’m on the outside, but it’s warm on the outside. That’s a lie, I don’t wanna fall apart,” revealing inner struggles all humans face.
Songs like “The Truth” and “Nevermind” evoke thoughts of Radiohead and continue to deal with such issues as love and loss in the face of modern philosophy. The album ends with a quiet, acoustic number (“Fire Escape”) leaving us to reflect upon the album and our own lives.
Foster the People burst onto the music scene with “Pumped Up Kicks” in 2011, and while the tune was unbelievably catchy, it was easy to brush them off as a one-hit-wonder. However, Supermodel proves the doubters wrong and guarantees the band a lasting place in indie and pop music history. Heavier, weighty lyrics and instrumentals bring the band down to earth as they explore universally relatable worldly issues from the perspective of a band coming to terms with newfound fame. I want to listen to it again and again and again.