Alternative & IndiePop
In the Name Of, Columbia
Last year, Cairo 360 gave Cults’ self-titled debut album a well-deserved four-star stamp of approval. Prior to the release, the Manhattan twosome, Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, had carved out somewhat of a cult following – pun intended – on New York’s underground scene, before being snapped up by Lily Allen’s record label, In the Name Of.
Over a year later, Follin and Oblivion’s unique brand of indie-pop has taken the form of follow-up LP, Static. The album kicks-off in familiar fashion with 112 second-long intro, ‘I Know’; hazy guitar strums and almost celestial vocals pick up right where fans want it to.
From there on in, Cults get kitschy with several genres; ‘I Can Hardly Make You Mine’ borrows the garage-rock sounds of the 70s, while ‘Always Forever’ is one of several tracks that hark back to the girl groups of the 60s.
Though it all makes for an affable cocktail of sounds, Static is just that; it’s an album by a band that has ventured only footsteps away from what was already a derivative sound. Instrumentally, there’s plenty of variety; but the majority of the tracks build similarly – occasionally into dead-ends.
All evidence then suggests that in order for Cults to take that next step, they need the help of a top producer – maybe even someone as obvious as Mark Ronson.
The album’s saving grace is the vocal work; an indie boy’s dream, Follin just plain gets it – ‘it’ being her role as the face and voice of a hipster-inclined couple who succeed in recovering yesteryear’s sounds and packaging it up in a perfectly neat little package. She sings with a reserved passion, delivering the sentiments of the lyrics in every note.
Said sentiments lean more towards the shoegaze-style gloom of tracks like piano-driven closer, ‘No Hope’, than in their previous album, but there’s still a bouncy and optimistic undercurrent that, even in the album’s more melancholic moments, brings the whole record together.
Everything about Cults is likeable; but they’re still green and will remain so until the dreaded album number three. Their debut album peaked at 52 on US charts, and 133 on UK charts, and this is not an album that will break that – nor is it likely to gain Cults new fans.