When Foster the People had a sleeper hit in 2011 with “Pumped Up Kicks,” buoyed by a sly chorus that felt like the Killers popping Quaaludes with M83, an interesting detail emerged about the band’s frontman. Mark Foster had once worked as a songwriter for hire, penning hummable jingles to be sold for commercials.
Three years later, with the release of Foster the People’s new sophomore album, that fact could not be more evident. “Supermodel” unfurls with bright, sunny melodies that bloom on songs that pick up where its Grammy-nominated debut, “Torches,” left off.
Foster the People is part of a new wave of power-pop bands, from fun. to Young the Giant, for whom no chorus is too big, no vocal too outsize. Their songs are meant to be sung in unison in arenas, imparting the warm, fuzzy feeling that we’re all in this together.
For such an unabashed pop record, “Supermodel” has lofty lyrical aspirations. Foster conceived it as a concept album, exploring issues of consumerism, our culture of convenience, and self-identity, as heard on the first single, “Coming of Age,” and “Are You What You Want to Be?”
The band also moved toward a more blood-and-guts approach to instrumentation this time around, less about flirty electro-pop and more centered on the interplay of guitar and bass and how Foster’s smooth croon can carom off that harder edge. It’s a big leap for a band to make in such a short time. (Out Tuesday) JAMES REED
ESSENTIAL “Coming of Age”
Foster the People plays at House of Blues on May 9.