The Bottom Line
The genius of Foster the People's breakthrough hit single "Pumped Up Kicks" is that it is a brilliant pop song wrapped in alternative clothing. This gives the song an edge that makes it stand head and shoulders above the majority of pop hits currently on the radio. Add to the picture creepily subversive lyrics and Foster the People have created a pop masterpiece. Whether or not the group or driving force Mark Foster can follow "Pumped Up Kicks" with more hits, they have created a durable song that will be fondly remembered many years from now.
- Masterful pop song wrapped in alternative clothing
- Intense, slightly disturbing lyrics
- Upbeat sound that works for parties or private listening
- Complete with no down side here
- Written by Mark Foster
- Produced by Mark Foster
- Released September 2010 by Columbia
Guide Review - Foster the People - "Pumped Up Kicks"
It only takes seconds for that nimble bass line to kick in which drives "Pumped Up Kicks" relentlessly forward. Then the talk box vocals join with a story about "Robert" and the gun he found in his dad's closet. Just when all is sounding ominous, the hand clapping chorus erupts. It sounds chirpy in a sun-drenched slacker style, but in those occasional gaps and spaces in the mix your mind goes back to the need to run "faster than my bullet." What can the listener really do except dance and sing along?
Songwriter, producer and band leader Mark Foster says that the words to "Pumped Up Kicks" were written to draw attention to gun violence among youth and Columbine style disasters. Why he chose to wrap it in such a catchy, otherwise upbeat, package is an open question, but it guarantees that once you hear the words they will be memorable. "Pumped Up Kicks" is that rare hit that works as a centerpiece of a party soundtrack as well as one which rewards close listening over headphones in the bedroom.
The instrumental mix for "Pumped Up Kicks" is admirably dense and layered. For the bridge it breaks down into a sort of spaced out surf guitar and whistling. The chorus is delivered once again nearly a capella with handclapping and bass before the full mix joins once again for the fade. It is a satisfyingly complete pop concoction which clearly ranks among the best singles of 2011. Look for Foster the People to be in the mix for a Best New Artist Grammy and possibly even competing for Record of the Year.