“Sometimes, it seems, there’s musical merit to be found in things that care to take a slightly less obvious approach as that which is shoved in your face”
Digital Release: March 5, 2012
Physical Release: N/A
There are two main loci in today’s pop music, each entity gravitating stringently around two polarised music principles. In the first impulse, we can watch from the sidelines as artists – new and established – dive headlong into brand spanking new technology with no real care about what is said or what the finished product sounds like, just so long as it sounds like everything else (see: Madonna’s ‘MDNA’). The second requires more precision and more lyrical depth, or just even plain old savvy to carry the weight of the music. Within this second field, you’ll find artists attempting huge-scale revivals of long-lost music eras, sometimes with the use of a practically arcane assembly of instruments (Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes) or simply a sound that just isn’t heard anymore. This strange and increasingly rare quality is what happens when pop suddenly shifts along a fault-line, disrupting the natural flow of what appears to be commercial, and in dislodging itself from the first gravitational field it falls into the second field, allowing songs like Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ or Foster The People’s ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ to have their time in the limelight.
Ignoring the band’s hopeless inability to name themselves something that’ll catch on, their new single ‘Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls)’ gravitates around the very same musical abnormalities that made their début single famous. And in doing so, they can expect a similar level of success, if given the right promotion. Not that a song like this needs an awful lot, because even after the final bars of ‘Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls)’ have jingled themselves off into the merry middle-distance between your conscious and unconscious, you already know it’ll be stuck with you for another hour or two. An infectious pop tune that burrows under the skin and machetes it’s way through your concentration levels, Foster The People may just be able to dispel the curse that dictates that countless numbers of awkwardly-named indie bands never quite appeal to a large enough demographic to sell more than one single to a certification over Plastic. This isn’t the recipe for longevity, but if they’re looking for a slightly less shameful flash-in-the-pan success then they’ve gone the right way about it. Subsequent singles probably won’t get a look-in, but that’s just because you can’t pigeon-hole Foster The People in a recognisable tangent of popular music and thus no-one really understands them. Worse still (or better still, if you’d rather not have joyous whistles and spongey guitar riffs bashed around the inside of your skull), with an army of digestible pop pap clenching the charts in the iron grip of music that often falls into either commercial commodity or that which is slightly roots-ier, no-one really cares to understand them, meaning all they’ve got to stand on is catchy music; can anyone remember what Mark Foster said was the influence of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’?
But as far as “catchy music” goes, ‘Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls)’ is absolutely infallible. As irritating as it is irresistible, the galloping ditty and folk-pop instrument ensemble combine together brilliantly and, led by Foster’s rasping vocals, scores potential hit number two for the band. It’s nothing revolutionary and it’ll piss you off if you hear it more than once a day, but isn’t that the compromise we all make when a song like this springs up out of the airwaves? They almost sound aware of how irritating they come across; a sort of smugness in that they’re subliminally implanting cement-hard melodies into your brain to last the rest of the week. Sometimes, it seems, there’s musical merit to be found in things that care to take a slightly less obvious approach as that which is shoved in your face.