Foster The People are one of North America’s most eclectic bands. Ever since the 2011 hit “Pumped Up Kicks”, many felt the group would just be a one-hit wonder. Yet their third album- Sacred Hearts Club– looks to change all that.
Sacred Hearts Club is a great combination of rock, soul, hip hop and psychedelia in just under 42 minutes. There’s even R&B and new wave influences on several songs. Frontman Mark Foster’s lyrics and Mark Pontius’ stellar drumbeats are among the album’s highlights.
This record also marks the official debut of Sean Cimino on lead guitar and Ison Innis on keyboards. They are longtime associates of Foster, and they were live musicians on the band’s earlier tours. Both get ample opportunity to step up and showcase their skills, especially Cimino who takes over from ex-guitarist Cubbie Fink.
Foster The People are artists who try not to repeat themselves musically or stylistically. Their debut record, Torches, is heavy on alternative rock, but the followup Supermodel goes in the direction of a psychedelic concept album. Luckily, Sacred Hearts Club is neither Torches 2 or another concept album.
The album begins with “Pay the Man”, and what a unique song it is. Far from a poppy sound, the track gives off a funky mix of hip hop and indie rock. Foster’s vocals are soft yet nuanced, giving off the vibe of a soul singer. While it is not a rocker, this is a stellar song in its own right. “Pay the Man” ought to be the band’s next single.
“Doing It For The Money” deftly fuses hip hop grooves with rock. The listener can almost feel the meshing of two genres within the track, but it does not come off as artificial or strange.
One of the most challenging songs is the club-inspired “Loyal Like Sid and Nancy.” Here, Foster’s rap-like vocals does not mesh with the EDM sound. While this song could work in a club, it is far from being house music. That being said, Pontius does a solid job with the drum beat. Although it’s neat the band are experimenting, the end result feels disjointed from the rest of the album.
Another good song to take in is “Six Next To Me”, because it combines R&B and new wave together. The band’s vocal harmonies give off a Beach Boys vibe. Indeed, Brian Wilson is one of Foster’s major inspirations as a singer and songwriter.
Sacred Hearts Club is one of Foster The People’s best efforts. Foster, Pontius, Innis and Cimino seem to have found their niche in the alternative and indie categories. some still call them the “Pumped Up Kids” in reference to their first hit, but they’re doing just fine. This is an album that is worth listening to.