A bit of Heart, not much soul
FOSTER THE PEOPLE Sacred Hearts Club Columbia
With a debut single as distinctive as 2010’s Pumped Up Kicks, there’s pressure to forge a new sound so Foster the People throw out multiple personalities on their third album Sacred
Hearts Club, hoping that something sticks. Crashing in with jagged guitars on Pay the
Man, the Los Angeles group also weave in light pop songs like Sit
Next to Me and Doing it for the Money – which would be perfect for a Channel 4 Racing highlights reel. These wear down the rough edges on harsher tracks, such as the unfortunately named Loyal Like Sid and Nancy. In a time where trends really matter, it’s easy to view this album as an assessment of what the people want, based on spreadsheets, streaming data and frazzled chart scientists. With lots of big artists relying on pseudo hit factories, with dozens of songwriters thrashing out demos to artists all at once, praying for a chart-topper, Foster the People feel more like a production group than a fullyformed band.
With founding Foster Mark’s background in commercial jingle writing, he has a knack for creating an instantly recognisable song. But a lot of this album sounds like borrowed hooks and styles. Static Space Lover sounds like Beach Boys diluted by Tame Impala, Pay the Man is a distant cousin of Sleigh Bells’s
Crown on the Ground and the preppy rock of Lotus Eater could belong to Vampire Weekend.
Over-familiarity and jarring genres aside, Sacred Hearts Club follows the current trend for morally-conscious pop songs with uplifting choruses that attempt to distract from bad news headlines. It’s an easy, breezy affair but the short-lived bursts of joy can’t make up for the band’s lack of identity.