Foster The People garnered such astronomical success with its debut, the chockfull of goodness Torches, heralded by the ubiquitous “Pumped Up Kicks,” that expectations for its follow-up, Supermodel, are high—perhaps too high. To meet these expectations the trio brought back hit-making producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Bruno Mars, Rihanna), who worked on two tracks from Torches, to shepherd Supermodel.
Supermodel differs from its predecessor in more than a few ways. Where Torches relied heavily on studio-generated sounds, Supermodel trades those in for organic ones. Recorded in assorted locations, including Morocco, Supermodel incorporates world music elements. These are signaled by the percussive African rhythms of album opener “Are You What You Want To Be” and the undulating Spanish guitars of “Nevermind,” both of which include joyful choruses that sound like a children’s choir. Supermodel explores modern-day psychedelia with the electric layers of “Pseudologia Fantastica” and its baritone to falsetto register changes, and on the intricately shaped grinder, “A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon.” In contrast, “Goats In Trees” and “Fire Escape” are wholly acoustic, the latter so stripped down that it feels unfinished.
Where Supermodel is most like Torches’ crafted exuberance is on the rumbling bass lines, pretty synth chords plus candy-coated vocals of “Ask Yourself” and the signature warbling riffs and multi-tiered harmonies of “Coming Of Age.” Even so, and even with the variation in styles—or perhaps because of this disparity—unlike Torches, Supermodel doesn’t have instant stickability. Instead, it is a slow grower. It’s worth it though, so be patient.