Music » Rhythm & Views

Foster the People: Torches (Columbia)

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This Los Angeles band's name reminds me of a similarly-titled James Taylor song ("Shower the People"). But the shiny, insistent dance rhythms on its heralded full-length debut—featured recently on that bastion of respectability, NPR—will immediately hip listeners to the fact that this band has little to do with the venerable folk troubadour, except for endlessly catchy melodies.

Foster the People is the brainchild of keyboardist/guitarist and vocalist Mark Foster, bassist Cubbie Fink and drummer Mark Pontius. On Torches, they worked with an all-star team of hit-makers who between them have produced recordings for Adele, Florence and the Machine, Muse, Interpol, Beck and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Tracks such as "Helena Beat," "Life on the Nickel" and "Miss You" combine slamming club beats, reverberating synths and pop hooks galore, with an alternative-rock sensibility. If you hear a little MGMT in the sound, eh, so be it. If it brings to mind French band Phoenix, all the better.

"I Would Do Anything for You" has a contemplative pace, an irresistible yacht-rock melody and a dreamy "ooh-la-la" chorus. My favorite is the gleaming-chrome of "Houdini," which is even better than the now-huge sleeper hit "Pumped Up Kicks."

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