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Cults [CD]

Cults Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Product Description

CD Description

Ever since posting three songs anonymously up on band camp in the spring of 2010, excitement and intrigue has been swirling around Cults, with the buzz building to a fever pitch early in 2011 with their first string of shows in the UK all quickly selling out. Gaining fervent supporters on both sides of the pond (including the influential likes of Pitchfork, Gorilla Vs Bear, NME and the Guardian), Cults have spent the year slowly and steadily building up their reputation as a live band, while also recording their album in the studio with Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, M.I.A). The result is their self-titled LP, chock full of deliciously offbeat, slanted and enchanted songs.
Expanding on the off-kilter loveliness of tracks like “Most Wanted” and “Go Outside”, the album compresses key points in the history of pop--everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Phil Spector to Jay Z and Lesley Gore--and takes it down some very unexpected (and sometimes, unexpectedly dark) places indeed. Gorgeously infectious melodies sit alongside surreal samples, soaring, cinematic choruses envelop lyrics detailing restlessness and heartbreak, and lush, out-and out pop hits (“Bumper”, the anthemic closer “Rave On”) rub up against tracks of a decidedly more sinister bent (“Walk At Night”, “Never Saw the Point”). This is a pop record boldly unafraid to wear its idiosyncrasies on its sleeve, as well as its vivid harmonies.

BBC Review

Cults emerged little over a year ago, seemingly out of nowhere, with their wildfire hit Go Outside and a heavy whiff of mystery. At the time facts about the band were thin; there were two of them, and they were from Brooklyn. But now the band (backed by additional members) are back with names, faces and a debut album – out on Lily Allen’s In The Name Of imprint – with no more ambiguity to hide behind.

The cautionary tale of the one-hit wonder is well-worn and wisely Cults eschewed the easily doomed path of the quick follow-up and waited for things to cool down. After a period of quiet, recordings-wise, Cults return on new single – and album opener – Abducted with a false calm. In the opening strains of the song only a faraway jangle is audible as Madeline Follin sings the opening few lines in a hush, as if to only herself. A snare announces the song properly as it bursts into its first chorus with lurching organ and a propulsive break-beat; it feels like no time has elapsed at all since the summer of 2010.

The opening trio of songs is the strongest, but that’s not to say that the rest of the record trails off meekly; more that the starting gun of Abducted, Go Outside and You Know What I Mean is a tough bang for any band to follow. The latter of those songs is an instant highlight with its rasping vocal and 1960s sound. It has more bite than Go Outside ever hinted at and is steeped in melancholy, peaking on the last chorus as Follin almost screams, "I am afraid of the light, yeah you know what I mean".

Her voice sounds great above their warm, reverb-soaked sound, and the band plays it up as the focal point on songs like Never Saw the Point as her vocal melodies are doubled by glockenspiel – a trick Cults pull out again and again. Echoes of Motown and Phil Spector also loom large throughout this record, lending a wistful, nostalgic feel to proceedings – it’s a great warm-weather album. But despite the genre signifiers there’s more than enough personality of their own here for Cults to transcend both their blog hit wonder and the timeworn sound they lovingly homage.

--Hari Ashurst

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