Ask anyone who's ever listened to the radio and they'll tell you Foster the People
defined the early 2010s with their shimmering electro-pop sound. "Helena Beat" and "Pumped Up Kicks" seemed to set the tone for the band, unexpectedly placing them on top charts worldwide. Their debut record Torches
was remarkable, and at the time, felt different than most pop music. Six years later, Foster the People are three albums into an impressive, ever-changing career. Sacred Hearts Club
has the foundation of a typical Foster the People record - hazy synths and absurdly catchy hooks - but lacks the brilliant color of the band's earlier work.
The first half of the album sounds like everything fans love about this band. Retro has always been the general vibe of Foster the People, and the psychedelic inspiration continues on much of Sacred Hearts Club
. Despite its awkward pseudo-rap verse, "Doing It For the Money" might be one of the strongest tracks on the album behind the nearly flawless "Sit Next to Me." The latter feels like it could have been cut from Supermodel
, with Mark Foster's vocals floating weightlessly through the chorus.
Once you get passed the short interlude "Orange Dream," the album feels much more frantic. There was an ease and effortlessness to Foster the People's dreamy, danceable sound that seems to have disappeared on Sacred Hearts Club
. Though there are a lot of individual aspects to love on this record, the overall project leaves you feeling unsatisfied and uncertain. "Static Space Lover" is a confusing Beach Boys tribute, if the Beach Boys were really into astrology. It's still catchy as hell, but there's something uncomfortable about the song, almost like the band is still trying to figure out who they are, six years later.
"Static Space Lover" isn't the only track that Foster the People swung wildly on and missed. It's hard to determine which lyric in "Loyal Like Sid and Nancy" is the most misguided: "They've locked our voices in the oven / Like Sylvia at home" or "We all pretend one day / We'll be the greatest of the Gatsbys." The song is an energetic, bass-driven track that (if you aren't listening to the words that closely) feels like it was made for glow stick-wielding ravers in dark, crowded clubs.
The band took to Twitter
a few months ago to discuss the record, saying, "We wrote these songs to reflect joy in a time where people have needed it more than ever and we thought it was a good time to share them with you." The joyous energy that has become synonymous with Foster the People is intermittently present on Sacred Hearts Club
, but it doesn't exactly connect with as much inspirational power as the band intended.