Way back in the day around ten years ago when people actually used to purchase physical CDs, I remember being a young teenager and walking into Best Buy to get a copy of Torches, the debut album from indie band Foster The People. Their hit single “Pumped Up Kicks” had been all over the radio the summer of 2010 and by the spring of 2011, they had another single, “Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls)” also capturing my attention. This was when I really started expanding on my music choices and I was excited to listen to an album that wasn’t just conventional pop, and if I’m being honest, this one took a while to grow on me. A few songs instantly stuck, like “I Would Do Anything For You” and “Houdini” but others I just didn’t get. They had so many intricate layers and lyrics that I couldn’t piece together at times, and yet this was a record that I kept going back to little by little. I still remember that feeling of excitement that my younger self felt while waiting to pay for my CD with my allowance money, and it’s a feeling that lingers on when I listen to these songs to this day. It’s rare to come across a collection of songs that manages to live on that long in emotion and in general sound, but this record here is something special. This project was way ahead of the “indie” trend that was to come and it feels timeless and already like a classic, despite it being around for only a decade. Here I would like to present to you, Torches by Foster The People.
Serving as one of the most perfect album openers I’ve ever heard with one of my favorite choruses ever, this song is a huge lyrical contradiction, with our narrator going on to explain how aware he is of his bad habits and yet why keeps on doing them. The song talks about self destruction and the never ending cycles that follow, with such subtle guitar and synth pieces that fit together like a little puzzle.
“Pumped Up Kicks”
This was the first song I ever heard from the band, along with many others I’m sure, and from the first listen I knew this song was going to stick around for a while. The grim lyrics detailing the thoughts of a school shooter are contrasted by a light indie feel and catchy melodies, almost perfectly distracting the listener from the real meaning of the track. It’s one that makes you do a double take for multiple reasons and one that’s produced so well, it never once feels stuck in 2010.
“Call It What You Want”
For a while this was the only song I listened to from this record. I think one thing that was so cool among the rest of the tracks was the zany piano and gang vocals, along with very fast verses. This one also has one of my favorite bridges and outros on the entire project.
“Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”
In my personal opinion, this is probably the weakest song on the record but I do have to admit that it has it’s place. The lyrics are written from a childs persepctive and they basically talk about a romantic relationship and wanting to keep someone around.
This band has a knack for creating songs that are so dark and emotion filled and pairing it with the brightest sounding instrumental. This song is told from the perspective of someone who is trying to be there for another person who is clearly struggling with something, and not only is it reassuring but it’s encouraging and makes you feel less alone during those bad moments. The bells on this one especially add a nice touch, along with the piano and enthusiastic instrumental will make you want to feel like you can take on anything.
“I Would Do Anything For You”
Out of all the songs, this one stuck with me the easiest upon first listen because it’s probably the most straightforward one out of all ten standard tracks. It’s a cute song about being in love and not only do the lyrics make you feel something but the overall production plays a part in that as well. The harmonica at the beginning is the perfect touch to draw you in and the insanely catchy chorus is enough to keep you around until the end.
Energetic and catchy the entire way through, one fascinating characteristic about this song is it’s festive chorus and emotional, uplifting lyrics. This is definitely one of the centerpieces of the entire record and I really like the way all it’s parts are layered together to make one cohesive track.
“Life On The Nickle”
One of the most intricately produced songs on here, this one is a wild ride with various synth, almost robot sounding noises. This one you have to listen very closely to to catch every little bit and it’s one of those songs that you’ll something new with each listen.
This record just gets stranger with each song that goes by and by the time we get here, it’s a little crazy but in the best possible way. This song is fast and hectic with an instrumental only chorus, a few different tempos and a handful of embellishments sprinkled throughout.
As our closing track, this song starts out as a slow burn with a dark guitar that becomes overshadowed by a bright piano, and lyrics that are centered around a criminal that’s trying to get away. The synthesizer on each song is so unique but it’s very unique when it comes to his one, where it feels quite heavy but that only adds to the theme of the track. This one just makes a lot of sense sonically where without even listening to the words, you can understand the story that it’s trying to convey.