Album Analysis: Foster the People’s latest no musical ‘Supermodel’

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Don’t be surprised when this bombshell of an album trips on the runway.    

“Supermodel,” Foster the People’s sophomore effort, listens as smoothly as a polished floor feels and zeros-in on anthem-reigning choruses with each track. If these qualities sound familiar, it’s because of Portugal. The Man, The Shins and Beck have embodied them recently as well.

The album opens with “Are You What You Want to Be?,” and its demented, Animal Collection-like instrumental is deceptive. Ed Sheeran on an acid trip might create similar sounds. Foster the People revives the cosmic turns midway through “Supermodel” when “Pseudologia Fantastica” meshes group chants and rapid, down-home slide guitar solos.  

But what surrounds tracks one and five mirrors the business-as-usual approach fellow alt-chart toppers like Gotye and fun. exemplify.

Foster the People’s hit “Pumped up Kicks” preceded Gotye and fun.’s 2012 climbs to the top. These members of contemporary pop-rock’s grand trifecta build their single-packed albums around similar elements: elongated musical highs and brief lows.

Throughout “Supermodel,” the band crafts contrasting tones in single songs. “Ask Yourself” hovers around the emotional spectrum through its different parts. The acoustic strums from the verses provide the other instruments room to channel grooves — then the chorus arrives and the strings become manic, overpowering even the repetitive chorus. 

“Nevermind,” track four, also follows this pattern; “Supermodel” features drastic shifts in each song. After so long, though, the turns feel like the dips and dodges of a vomit-inducing, yet predictable roller coaster. The songs’ dynamic parts show depth, but listeners can spot them beforehand.

The album’s half-witted lyrics also detract from Foster the People’s artistic innovations.      

Foster the People lead singer Mark Foster centers “Supermodel” and its themes on modern-day concerns in regards to consumerism and self-worth. However, dull, abstract lyrics like, “You know I try to live without regrets/I’m always moving forward and not looking back,” from the album’s debut single, “Coming of Age,” mean little on a personal scale.

Foster aims the album to people who have become disconnected from reality because of screens. These half-baked attempts at a rock opera do little more than provide bland snippets that run longer than a Facebook wall but have less depth than a crappy meme. 

Also, though Foster repeatedly reiterated what “Supermodel” symbolizes when promoting its release, some songs drift from the theme in stark ways. Imagine The Who’s “Tommy,” rock ‘n’ roll’s most iconic opera, if the protagonist replaced his aspirations to reacquire his lost senses with endless partying.

“Supermodel” includes hazy instrumentals that could provide the backdrop for Pink Floyd-esque lyrics. But the words here, although aimed to transcend music, just add dragged-out noise to the album.

Final Rating: Two-and-a-half out of Five Suns