Wednesday 8 June 2011


Cults is a new band who yesterday released their debut album - a joyous day for any band. The self-titled full-lengther has been on Lily Allen's Columbia Records imprint, In The Name Of. For both the label and the duo themselves, it seems like it's going to be a winner: it's current, clever, and very good.

This album slots in perfectly with the ultra-contemporary lo-fi, garage-band revival, fitting alongside artists like The Drums and Surfer Blood with ease. The album is characterised by perhaps a darker tone than both the above bands, and embraces a kind of sunny melancholy that seems to be trending heavily in many areas of music.

Songs like 'Go Outside' - the most well known from the album, as it was released over a year ago on a 3-song EP - embody the spirit that drives Cults; with a sample of Jim Jones' infamous Death Tape at the beginning, the haunting, heavily reverberated vocals are contrasted by a happy motown bassline (something heard also in 'Most Wanted') and glockenspiel fragility throughout.

The slowdance of the tragic 'You Know What I Mean' touches on the sentiment of living with despair - lyrics like "I try so hard to be happy" and "Please, please come and save me / tell me what's wrong with my brain cause I seem to have lost it" ring with sadness and frustration that's nearly impossible to not empathise with. This will ring true with many a disaffected youth, and is a song that once again relays the tragic hope, or hopeful tragedy, that looms over the sound of the album like an overcast day shot with spears of long afternoon sunlight.

From the bouncy good vibrations and ever-so-slightly gloomy indie rhythms of 'Abducted' to the 60s soul spirit (some of the vocal melodies, for example, remind me of those used by 60s-revivalists The Pipettes) summoned in 'I Never Saw The Point', Cults album is more varied and unique than perhaps it may first seem. I've said 'lo-fi', I've said 'garage-band', but this doesn't do it justice: it's clever, interesting stuff. Samples are abound in a lot of the 11 songs offered with the Jim Jones sample works its way into the middle of 'Bumper', too (it must be something to do with cults). It's a mix of old and new, melodic ambience and dissonant distortion, happy and sad, and it works like a charm.

And it's all topped by the end track: the lightly abrasive, wholly anthemic, end-of-night ballad that is 'Rave On' ends the album on an epic note. Introducing the song with a slow acoustic guitar, including frustrated guitar solos, thin distortion blankets the song as it rises up and assaults you beautifully. What an ending.

Overall this is a wonderful album. Everything about it is wonderful; the sweet, enchanting voice of Madeline Follin contrasted with the deeper nonchalance of Brian Oblivion; the throwback rhythms and stylings of the 60s combined with lo-fi modernism. It's a charming album of polarities brought together exquisitely for one whole sound that is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.

Cults on Twitter

Cults official site
Cults SoundCloud
Cults Myspace

Buy the album here

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  1. Wicked band, wicked review ! I will go on Itunes tonight and buy the whole music !!!

  2. Oh thank you, that's very kind. It is a great album, and I had to match that, you see. Definitely get it and let me know what you think.