Pumped Up Songs

Their track Pumped up kicks had a fresh,cheerful feel and its catchy chorus catapulted the band to the top of the charts.

Written by Pooja Pillai | Published: August 6, 2011 12:07:56 am

It was almost a year before the official release of their first full-length album that LA-based band Foster the People began to be referred to as the next best thing in indie music circles. Their track Pumped up kicks had a fresh,cheerful feel and its catchy chorus catapulted the band to the top of the charts. Although it was touted as the anthem for the summer of 2011,there were fears that the band might just be a one-hit wonder. The album Torches,which was released this June,has laid those apprehensions to rest: Foster the People’s music remains as hummable and as happy as it did on that first single.

To categorise the band’s music as mostly cheerful would,however,be a mistake. After the initial earwormy appeal of Pumped up kicks and the thump of its heavy bassline have worn off,one starts to pay attention to the lyrics,which talk about a disaffected and lonely young boy who massacres his schoolmates. That’s when the lines,“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks/ you better run better run,outrun my gun,” start to sound ominous. They also alter the band’s image as a group of hippy,happy people. Clearly,they have something of substance to say and they like subverting the ways in which serious messages can be put across. Who would have thought a “summer anthem” would try to raise awareness about gun culture in the US?

The electro-pop sound and the danceworthy beats run through all the songs in the album — although one is more likely to dance to them in the shower than at a club. The lyrics,however,usually are much darker or deeper. Call it what you want is a plea for non-conformity,with vocalist Mark Foster singing,“We’re locked up in ideas/ We like to label everything/ Well,I’m just gonna do here what I gotta do here.” Waste,on the other hand,is a rather sad little love letter from a man to his lover who seems to live a little too much in her head — “I’ll hold your hand when you are feeling mad at me/ When the monsters,they won’t go/ The windows,they won’t close/ I’ll pretend to see what you see.” Even the soppy and sentimental I would do anything for you is hugely likeable for the catchy chorus — something that they have a genius for. Foster the People’s music may not sound as distinctive as other indie bands,such as Vampire Weekend,but there’s no denying the freshness of their music and approach.

pooja.pillai@expressindia.com

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