It’s an indie-rock day. Tokyo Police Club generally produces a few gems per album, but they aren’t hugely consistent. Still, the gems they write hit harder than you would expect. Foster the People can write decent tunes when they feel like it, but their lyrics too often bring front man Mark Foster’s pretentions front and center.
Tokyo Police Club: “Forcefield” (Mom & Pop) “Champ” was one of the albums I kept in my car throughout 2010, but that doesn’t mean it was a great album. Even as I was constantly listening to it, I never found a reason to listen to “Big Difference” or “Not Sick,” instead sticking to the marvelous first half. Consistency has always been their biggest problem, until now. Here, they offer nine songs, all of which are enjoyable, but none of which are as addicting as the key tracks on “Champ.” That makes for a better product, I suppose. But without a “Breakneck Speed,” “Favourite Food” or “Bambi,” this record makes me wonder how important consistency is in the long run. Grade: A MINUS
Foster the People: “Supermodel” (Columbia) In a world where bands like Neon Trees and Bastille are getting catchy songs that vaguely resemble indie-rock on the radio, I find Foster the People particularly grating. That’s mainly because their big hit is, as
Mark Foster put it, “a ‘f-ck you’ song to the hipsters” sung from the point of view of a homicidal teenager. Even worse, Foster chickened out by hiding the dark subject matter behind a hook he wrote while he was a commercial jingle writer. On the band’s second album, there are no commercial jingle hooks, which brings the album’s concept right up to the front: capitalism is bad. Grade: C
And, since we’re a quarter of the way through 2014, here are my 15 favorite albums of the year (that I’ve reviewed) so far.
The verdict is in, and most people hate my No. 1 pick.
1. Skrillex: “Recess” (Big Beat/OWSLA/Atlantic)
2. Toni Braxton & Babyface: “Love, Marriage & Divorce” (Motown)
3. Knifefight: “Knifefight” (Anticon ’13)
4. Drive-By Truckers: “English Oceans” (ATO)
5. Against Me!: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” (Total Treble Music)
6. Withered Hand: “New Gods” (Fortuna Pop)
7. Neneh Chery: “Blank Project” (Smalltown Supersound)
8. Angel Haze: “Dirty Gold” (Island/Republic ’13)
9. Tokyo Police Club: “Forcefield” (Mom & Pop)
10. Hard Working Americans: “Hard Working Americans” (Melvin)
11. Speedy Ortiz: “Real Hair” (Carpark)
12. The Hold Steady: “Teeth Dreams” (Washington Square)
13. Phantogram: “Voices” (Republic)
14. Lydia Loveless: “Somewhere Else” (Bloodshot)
15. St. Vincent: “St. Vincent” (Loma Vista/Republic)
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