Foster the People came about a fair few years ago with breakout hit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ which thus branded them as an upbeat indie-poptronica group and their debut album Torches delivered just that. Three years down the line sophomore album Supermodel came and went with more synths, less media coverage but ultimately the same feel good anthems Foster the People are now known for.
‘Pay the Man’ was the first single from Sacred Hearts Club to be released so rather appropriately it also opens the album. The verse has sparse synths and a dubbed beat under Mark Foster’s vocals which sit somewhere between rapping and spoken word. The chorus falls into more familiar territory, melodic vocals and the light chime of guitar. Next comes ‘Doing It For the Money’ which doesn’t do it for me as much as the other tracks. There’s a more trappy beat and the synths are far crisper than the lo-fi feeling on ‘Pay the Man’. Foster’s signature falsetto comes into play in the chorus but ultimately the tension that the verses create isn’t relieved, leaving a sense of dissatisfaction at the end of the song. The chorus feels like the pre-chorus and the pre-chorus like a bridge.
‘Sit Next to Me’ is a marvel, it’s a bit like if you rebooted MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’ but with an American Twang and a guitar. The song starts in simple synths and ghosting vocals before a slow, slinky bass line sets in under Foster’s understated sultry, seductive vocal tones. The chorus is where ‘Sit Next to Me’ really comes alive. The synths taking a more 90’s psychedelia turn and the building group vocals are just begging to be sang along to. The narrative of Sacred Hearts Club is as dark as predicted, putting ‘S.H.C’ and ‘Sit Next to Me’ as lighter notes among the likes of ‘Loyal Like Sid and Nancy’.
‘S.H.C.’ is sort of the title track from Sacred Hearts Club and it’s where it would’ve made sense for the album to go, for a lot of fans, following 2014’s Supermodel. The song is an airy indie song driven by an undeniably feel-good riff and a singalong chorus. ‘I Love My Friends’ is another flash of Supermodel material with Foster’s usual bouncy lyrics and danceable, beachy riffs.
The ‘Orange Dream’ interlude is nice, it seems to mark an era where Foster the People are thinking about their sound and the story that their record tell as a whole more than ever. ‘Lotus Eater’ has an incredibly Strokes-esque shuffle to it. The lyrics emanate the bad boy Mark Foster has never been, and the jangly riffs wouldn’t sound out of place on Room on Fire. Ultimately the song is one that people will keep going back to, it stands out among the others for the sweet and sour taste it leaves in the mouth.
‘Loyal Like Sid and Nancy’ comes quite late in the album. The song appears to feed into a far darker narrative than the previous two albums portray. The verses sit over synths and poppy bass which admittedly is going to be hard to digest for fans of the Coming of Age era of Foster the People, this misses the mark as a danceable track but it seems that that was the point. The final 90 seconds of the song pull back what would otherwise be a step backwards in my opinion. It pulls away from the pop bass that drowns out all other elements and the song sounds less vacuous.
‘Harden the Paint’ takes a few seconds to settle in but once it’s there it’s a fully functioning piece of poptronica. It’s dreamy and between the sparsely placed trap movements, sounds like it’s begging for a remix. ‘III’ closes the album and sums up the overall sound of Sacred Hearts Club well. Overall the album was supposed to be light relief in a time when hatred is rife and to be fair to Foster the People, it is.
Listen to Sacred Hearts Club here.