If you bought stock in Foster the People when they first emerged on the scene late last year, kudos to you. Though we loved “Pumped Up Kicks” from the first time we laid ears on it, we didn’t have huge hopes for its commercial potential—the song’s verses were too weird, the groove too slippery, the band too anonymous. But somehow, “Kicks” has turned into the stealth hit of the summer, topping the alternative songs chart and likely moving into the top 40 on this week’s Hot 100. It’s that all-too-rare example of a song just being good enough that people are willing to meet it on its own highly unconventional terms, and that’s a beautiful thing.
It’s also a hard thing to sustain, however, and Foster the People’s are at real risk of “Pumped Up Kicks” representing the entirety of their musical legacy if they don’t strike again while the iron’s hot. Enter “Helena Beat,” Foster’s follow-up single to “Kicks,” and its new video, directed by veteran indie favorite Ace Norton (LCD Soundsystem, Santigold, Bloc Party). While “Kicks” has become a crossover hit, its video was made by people who clearly did not expect to be famous anytime soon—an uninspiring collage of live performance clips and California lifestyle footage. “Beat” goes the other way with it, a relatively high-budget, high-concept video that looks like a band trying to take the next step towards being legitimately big time.
The concept, previously described by the band as “Lord of the Flies meets Mad Max,” does indeed feature a bunch of kids in a post-apocalyptic landscape that such a hybrid would imply. The band of ultraviolent tykes kidnap the members of FTP and torture them for no particular reason, eventually converting the group’s lead singer (whose name is Mark Foster, actually) into one of their own with a weird sciencey contraption that steals about 20 years from Foster and gives them to some old guy. The video ends with Kid Foster eating a postcard, because eating paper is totally in these days.
Fun video and fun song, as long as you don’t think about either all too much. Whether the band can catch lightning in a bottle twice or not remains to be seen, though, and frankly, we’re not even sure we’re through with “Kicks” just yet anyway.