Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Cults" by Cults

Cults by Cults was released on June 6, 2011
on Columbia Records
Cults are a band that on paper fit the exact niche that most popular bands of last year fell into, lo-fi with surf-rock influence, male/female harmonies and reverberated vocals, however the band simply is too talented to fall into that blanketed category.  Cults' debut self-titled album is released through Columbia, the steam for this band picked up quickly when they released "Go Outside" back in 2010, it's full of sing-along melodies and catchy synth and bell parts, but this album is incredibly well rounded and knows exactly when to draw back from the poppy side and focus on their brilliant textures and melodies that make this album so enjoyable.

Cults have clearly been influenced by many different genres, there's mid 20th century girl-pop strewn about the record that have been filled with synth lines and sometimes incomprehensible layers of instruments.  This sense of depth adds to the dreamy feeling of the album and certainly helps the album flow seamlessly through its 33 minute runtime.  Tracks like "You Know What I Mean" and "Oh My God" are standouts thanks to their infectious melodies and their dance-able rhythms, but this statement can stand true for the majority of the album.  All eleven tracks bring their own bit to the table, not a single one drags or takes away the luster of the album.  They've even got samples of famous cult leaders speaking to their followers sprawled about the album making for an even more interesting listen through, especially since it's not just thrown in for effect, it fits in seamlessly.

The only qualm I could find with this album is the lyricism, at times it's far too simple but the messages conveyed are clearly heartfelt and still find them self leaps and bounds above Best Coast's and massive amounts of people didn't seem to have too much of a problem with those.  The lyrics may be simple but they evoke stronger images than your average lo-fi surf rock band and certainly seem to have much more meaning than the others as well.  The theme of detachment or teenage angst can be found throughout Cults' debut effort as well, Madeline Follin continuously sings of being alone, sleeping alone, and lost love.  Tracks like "Never Heal Myself" display an array of emotions found on the album, boasting a catchy chorus of "But I never could never heal myself enough for you" then proceeds with verses of changing for another and "making myself right in your eyes".  The song ends with a slight change to the refrain but a big change in message, "But I could never be myself, so fuck you".  This is the teenage angst and mind frame found throughout the album that's been intricately placed in the exact points needed to make it so that it's not an album littered with 'Woe is me' tracks, but rather accurately conveys the mindset of teenage love and lust.

All in all Cults' debut effort is a phenomenal one.  The Spektor-esque walls of sound that are found throughout the album does wonders for the overall picture painted, it adds much more depth and substance to the sound of the band and that's what makes the album stand out when compared to recent releases from bands in similar genres.  So while simplicity can at times be a problem with lyrics, there's nothing simple about the message and sound provided by Cults on their first full length.  I'm intrigued to see where the band can take their sound from here because this is one hell of a debut.

Rating: 8.7
Standout Tracks: "Go Outside", "You Know What I Mean", "Never Heal Myself", "Oh My God"

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