Tuesday, June 10, 2014

#MySummerJam: Foster the People, “Pumped-Up Kicks”

Given that there’s a rage shooting at least once a week in the good ol’ USA, it’s always going to be “too soon” for this song, which was all over the radio in Summer 2011. Composer Mark Foster has pointed out that the lyrics to “Pumped-Up Kicks” leave open the possibility that this is merely dark fantasy, and that’s mostly what I get from it. It’s a dark rumination by a lonely, angsty teenager. The wacky-catchy bass line gives it away. He’s bored, alone, and goofin’. 

So everyone calm down, and whistle along. When was the last time we’ve heard anything so melodic on the radio?

DRIVE-BY REVIEW BONUS: The album from which this song comes, Torches, is one of the select few albums since 2000 I’ve fallen in love with. It’s not merely chock-full of hummable melodies and driving beats, there’s a life to this production that’s been missing from pop music altogether since, oh, 9-11.

That said, I have to wonder what happened to Mark Foster and company with the second album, Supermodel. Like the best of the worst pop out there, the songs are just sorta-kinda there. There’s nothing here that makes you jump out of your chair to boogie like “Helena Beat” or “On the Nickel” on Torches. I can’t believe Mark Foster used up all his his best songs on one album. 

Torches is still so good I’m willing to give any third album they come up with a listen. But even if that doesn’t pan out, Torches will forever be a disc to play on your drive and remind you why it’s good to be alive. Even the song that’s supposed to be about a rage-shooting (or fantasy of the same) does that for you.