From a first impression, passively listening to Foster The People’s Sacred Hearts Club is familiar but disappointing—an album meant to be played in the background. It took a week to realize that I should pay closer attention to the record instead of trying to multitask. Consequently, I found myself dancing to Sacred Hearts Club, mesmerized by the subtle complexity of genre in each song. Mixed with influences of 60’s psychedelia, punk rock, hip-hop, shoegaze, and techno, Foster the People successfully surpassed the stagnant feel of 2014’s Supermodel.
Lyrically—and surprisingly—Mark Foster uses the album as a love letter to the disenfranchised. “After [Trump] got elected, I started to realize that I really wanted to unite people. That political race was so polarizing, these two extreme factions seemed more divided and more volatile against each other than ever. The last thing I wanted to do was add gasoline to that fire,” said Foster in a recent interview with The Independent. With leading singles like “Pay the Man” and “Doing it for the Money,” Foster masters the message through a balance of gentility and cheeky rebellion.
Arguably, Sacred Hearts Club is better crafted than any of the band’s past work, implementing smart transitions between each song, while intertwining and complementing several genres within them. From “Lotus Eater’s” neo-punk, garage band vibe, to “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy’s” eclectic layering of hip-hop and EDM, Sacred Heart Clubs radiates positivity.
A labor of love, the album was produced in the three years following the Supermodel Tour and went through various incarnations as the world went through current political and social changes. The motivation to acknowledge turmoil whilst challenging it with joy is a refreshing take on current events—it’s a less controversial gesture, but no less appreciated. Sacred Hearts Club is an acknowledgment of pain and welcoming of the love to come. In a short documentary describing the new album, Foster shared his vision stating, “I want us to embody the spirit of whatever that song is… if it’s a fun banger and you want to turn off your brain and not have to think about anything, and just like dance, then hopefully they’re feeling that.”
Sacred Hearts Club is not immediately groundbreaking unless listened to at the highest volume, without any distractions. And hopefully, within a few minutes, you too will be dancing your troubles away.
By Stephanie Elmir