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Album Review

by Cults

Sony Music

Review Date
27th June, 2011
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

Cults are a band that provoke infatuation. Their sound is a shrewd concoction of the past and present, which teeters on the edge of darkness and makes them almost irresistible upon first sight. But it’s what lies underneath that hazy initial impression that determines whether or not longevity figures in Cults future, or whether they’ll be usurped by the next pretty young things to come along instead.

In support of the former are the unusual ingredients that Cults have applied to a familiar formula. A fist full of Mo-town rhythms and harmonies presented in a pretty boy/girl package isn’t something to write home about these days, but Cults aren’t necessarily aiming for your heart unless it’s to pluck it from your chest, as opener ‘Abducted’ resolutely attests to. It’s in that, as well as cheerfully sung lyrics like “what we most want is bad for us we know”, that any similarity Cults might share with the likes of Best Coast or Tennis becomes more dubious than Madeline Follin’s voice or Brian Oblivion’s reverb heavy instrumentation might suggest.

There’s also the fact that they’ve tried to modernise the sound, rather than slavishly attempt to recreate it; ‘Go Outside’ and ‘Oh My God’ being the perfect examples. This approach aligns them somewhere between the aforementioned bands and the likes of Sleigh Bells; being able to be loud when they want too and quiet when they need too. Unlike Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller though, when Cults apply layers, they leave them thin enough to still be accessible.

However, that accessibility also reveals a contradiction about the band. While they clearly aspire to be more, Cults’ debut album is essentially an exercise in pure pop, the trapping of which shadows the album over its brief 35 minute running time. Mostly, it’s manifested by an overarching similarity that gives the album a sense of disposability. Something that doesn’t strive for variation is only going to hold your attention for so long.

But perhaps it’s best to revel in Cults because of their immediacy. Being endlessly capable of producing songs like ‘Bumper’, with a dainty hook hinged on implicit peril, is (for the moment at least) a massive strength for the band, if not one that will guarantee them your heart forever. Ultimately though, that’ll depend on whether you can stop Cults from just taking it from you anyway.


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