Foster the People – Sacred Hearts Club
Let’s start with the good, because there’s more than a little to like about Foster the People’s new record. For one, there won’t be many other mainstream pop albums this year that ricochet quite as boldly between styles or pool inspiration from as wide a range of sources. There certainly won’t be another that features a loving Beach Boys tribute like Time to Get Closer, a teasingly brief dollop of psychedelic vocals over warm, creamy synths that’s all the more surprising following the post-punk thrash of Lotus Eater. Static Space Lover is even better; it coasts on a thermal draft of snappy snare and gentle keys before a guitar that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Smith Westerns record adds the pièce de resistance to the track’s balmy daydream atmosphere.
But we can’t go any further before we make one thing clear: Sacred Hearts Club contains some of the worst music we’ve heard all year. You might well be dubious about that claim, and with good reason. While nobody would mistake Foster the People for innovators, they’ve had a good run of likeable hits with the likes of Pumped Up Kicks and Coming of Age, songs that were founded on a workmanlike commitment to catchiness over bludgeoning production gimmicks that helped the band stay clear of producing anything worthy of outright derision.
That was true, at least, until they wrote Doing It for the Money, a song so bad it transcends matters of taste and enters into the realm of physical discomfort. With its shrill, clunky refrain, blasted at approximately two hundred decibels, it’s positively squirm-worthy, like the sonic equivalent of someone dribbling icy water down your spine. The spoken word verses meanwhile are the stuff Lonely Island parodies are made of, with bandleader Mark Foster deadpanning lyrics like 'let’s leave the future with the past' with the utmost breathy seriousness.
The high watermark for boneheaded lyricism doesn’t arrive till later however, on Loyal Like Sid & Nancy. Already irritating, the wannabe club banger tailspins into oblivion during a bravura stretch of head-scratching poetry capped off with the bombshell of a line 'we’ll all pretend one day we’ll be the greatest of the Gatsbys' – the cringe is real folks. It’s a good thing the band’s scattershot creative method comes through elsewhere because lows as woeful as these aren’t quickly forgotten.
Listen to: Static Space Lover, Time to Get Closer