Torches' heavily-played and buzzed about lead single Pumped Up Kicks is a misleading intro to the album, as it's decidedly more "indie-rock" than the rest of the songs. Listening to only that one song, you might have expected an album of similar, acoustic-guitar driven soft indie pop rock tunes...but that's not really what's going on here.
Album opener Helena Beat will probably take up permanent residence in many peoples' ears immediately after hearing it, as its absurdly infectious overall sound and main vocalist Mark Foster's REALLY high-pitched vocals make the song pretty damn irresistible. Think MGMT combined with RATATAT and you'll have a good idea how this one sounds.
Call It What You Want keeps the party going, throwing in a Jamiroquai-esque rhythmic crunch at the beginning that stays throughout the song. There's just no way to listen to this song and not bob your head at some point, even if you find the song annoyingly sticky sweet and poppy.
At this point it's pretty apparent that Foster the People have created an album that could be played on FM rock radio stations AND night clubs, which is quite a feat. Every song on the record could easily have a "dance remix" that would set many dance floor ablaze. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see a Remix EP come out within the next few months.
Color On The Walls (Don't Stop) is more akin to what a lot of people probably expected after Pumped Up Kicks. Acoustic strumming leads the song into a whistling refrain, pumping up the indie quirk level. Good luck getting this song out of your head, too.
There's really no point in singling out specific tracks on this album, as they're all equally catchy. While the production sometimes seems a bit flashy and over-the-top, it only adds to the overall danceability of the album.
I Would Do Anything For You is a bouncy, synth-heavy jam boasting one of the album's most memorable choruses that is tailor-made for a "Fun Night On the Town" montage in a romantic comedy.
Houdini sounds like a menagerie of about five other groups, the names of which I cannot recall as I type this, but the end result is a piano and synth-soaked exercise in dance-pop bliss.
Hustling (Life on the Street) and Miss You are decent tracks, but they don't have the immediate pull of the first seven. Album closer Warrant bursts with percussive flourishes and atmospheric production that helps it serve as the perfect cap to the album.
With Torches, Foster the People definitely deliver quite an impressive debut album. Pumped Up Kicks was all the world really had to hear from them for a few months, creating expectations of just another cookie-cutter indie-rock band with quirky acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. Instead, the band's first album is a joyful combination of foot-stomping beats, infectiously bouncy rhythms and top-notch percussion and production.
While I personally was expecting "just another indie-rock band", Foster the People surprised me with the direction Torches takes. The album may not really hold up well over time, considering this sort of indie-pop tends to have a short shelf life, but it will be interesting to see where the band goes from here.