The only band who got a full album review at Papiro & Mint was Foster the People with their sophomore record Supermodel, back in 2014. Because of that, I decided to follow the tradition, not only because I’m a big fan of the band but also because I’m not finding a lot of reviews since the album leaked this afternoon. The only two reviews available though, are crashing the album with terrible ratings, a fact that I think it’s pretty unfair considering the number of bad albums that are admired each year – at the same time, I’m not a trustful critic as I’ve been waiting for this album for about 3 years now.
The fact is that Sacred Hearts Club is definitely the weakest album of the band, which doesn’t necessarily mean is a bad record. For those who still compare this album with their single Pumped Up Kicks, they won’t find anything interesting here, just as people who are not a big fan of Supermodel won’t like Sacred Hearts Club. Even though Foster the People isn’t a major band and it is still named as an “MGMT-Cage-the-Elephant sonority-like group”, the band has been evolving since their first single, improving their live concerts, their sound and irreversibly, the band itself. Three years have passed since their last record came out, which is the same amount of time it took to be released. Just as their sound was different on Supermodel, their sonority changed again in Sacred Hearts Club.
You can already see the big difference on Pay the Man, Doing It For the Money and SCH, three tracks that were released on an EP called III at the beginning of the year. They are very catchy, pop and fun tracks with a lot of energy and different beats, which is something Foster already did on their first album Torches, but at the same time, it feels different – a little more pop than usual, mixing some hip-hop and psychedelic elements. Sitting Next to Me is a Foster the People song par excellence, a Californian indie rock-pop that brings back singles like Coming of Age and Ask Yourself to mind. The same happens with I Love My Friends, which is a very smooth and fun track that reminds me of Don’t Stop, a track with lyrics written by the point of view of a kid. It’s a little silly but still fun, and I think that Foster the People has always known how to transmit the playful kid from inside of us into their songs.
Things start to get a little tricky with Orange Dream, which is almost a track that announces the shift the album is about to face, or the start of Side B – a psychedelic minute track that is not bad neither interesting, it just exists. The following song is Static Space Lover, a track that you could easily see coming out of Supermodel. The riffs are the same, the rhythms are alike and it has a very interesting female vocal at the beginning which I can’t identify who belongs to. It’s probably one the most interesting songs of the album. Lotus Eater, however, it’s a pop-punk track that doesn’t really match the band – or the record. It must be a really fun track to play but comparing to what Foster the People has done so far, it’s not a very interesting choice to put it on the record, or necessarily good. As speaking of interesting, Loyal Like Sid & Nancy is almost experimental techno that you could picture coming out of Lady Gaga’s next album – which is not a bad thing, but it definitely has nothing to do with Foster the People.
And to add to their list of experiments, Time to Get Closer is a one minute track that makes an homage to The Beach Boys, one of their favorite bands ever. That gets me wondering why aren’t they investing their time on these kinds of references instead of doing something like Loyal Like Sid & Nancy or Lotus Eater? They like beach-pop and tropicalia rock, so why not use that since that’s what they are good at? The album concludes with Harder the Paint and III, which are tracks I’m not really sure what to think, but nothing striking crosses my mind so far. There a few other experiments who are not bad but they’re also not good, which I think it creates a certain inconsistency comparing to not only the whole album itself, but what the band has been doing so far.
To conclude, I think Sacred Hearts Club is an above average album. It’s fun, interesting and it will be nice to keep playing to discover more things in it. Is it a little inconsistent? Yes. But changes happen and I’m glad they released a new album, which is more than several bands can do after dropping two records. Let’s just keep hoping they improve themselves as they have been doing for all these years and enjoy the next three years with these new tracks.