FOSTER THE PEOPLE
“Sacred Hearts Club”
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Finding a way to get pumped up again.
Foster the People’s stunning smash single “Pumped Up Kicks” seemed to surprise everyone in 2011 — including the band.
The California group’s response to creating a smart, catchy anthem that many people misunderstood was to put out the more straightforward follow-up album, “Supermodel.”
With its third album, “Sacred Hearts Club” (Columbia), though, Foster the People is back to using catchy music to deliver more complicated, pumped-up ideas.
The first single “Doing It for the Money” is a clever start, considering how the moody R&B singalong declares they’re “not doing it for the money.” “I Love My Friends” has the same feel as “Pumped Up Kicks,” as singer Mark Foster is all about his friends, even though he says, “We’re a disaster, yeah, you know it’s true” over an irresistible groove. “Pay the Man” also features the idea of combining dark lyrics and light melodies, while “Harden the Paint” moves between dreamy dance pop arrangements and spare trap grooves.
The most ambitious song here is “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy,” where Foster the People jumps between lush dance pop and the bluntness of “Yeezus”-era hip-hop. Foster piles on a stream of stark images from “Got my hands up in the air, I’m saying I can’t breathe” and refusing refugees to pretending “one day we’ll be the greatest of the Gatsbys” in the verses. In the chorus, he prays for a solution and hopes that it will come eventually, though that didn’t go so well for the late Sex Pistol Sid Vicious (who overdosed on heroin) and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, who was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel.
“Sacred Hearts Club” is well-crafted from start to finish, though it does feel that the band is pulling its punches at times. Foster the People is at its best when it is swinging for the fences, like they do on “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy.”