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Thursday 25 May 2017

Album Review: Foster The People - Torches * * * *

Five years ago, Peter Bjorn and John enjoyed a summer hit with Young Folks. There's a very good chance that what's left of summer 2011 will be soundtracked by Pumped Up Kicks, the irresistible anthem to be found on this debut album from the Los Angeles trio.

The song is cut from the same lo-fi cloth as the PB and J hit and there's even a blast of cheerful whistling at the end, but anyone who pays attention to the lyrics will soon glean that this upbeat delight is concerned with the sobering and very American problem of high-school shootings.

And it's not the only tune here that could well enjoy crossover ubiquity -- Helena Beat is classic West Coast pop shot through with choice electronica. Like a number of tracks here, it's not a million miles awy from what MGMT used to do before they decided to trade their commercial nous for a maddening strain of indulgent avant garde.

Much of what's good about this band centres on frontman Marc Foster (they used to be known as Foster & the People) and his ability to mine pop gold in this short, but frequently loveable album. Warrent, the album's electro-pop closer, is typical of his ability to draw generously from the past to produce something thoroughly 'now'.

Credit must also go to a trio of big-name producers -- Paul Epworth (Adele; Florence and the Machine), Rich Costey (Muse; Interpol) and Greg Kurstin (Red Hot Chili Peppers; Beck) -- for retaining much of the band's shuffling charm, while also offering a giant look-at-me flag to the masses.

Burn it: Pumped up Kicks; Warrent; Helena Beat

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