Review: Cults – “Cults”

In what’s becoming a growing trend, I’m having trouble becoming sold on bands and their albums right away, and Cults was no different. Maybe it was the fact that I thought the duo put out only two good songs last year. Maybe it was the Four Loko-fueled performance with Best Coast at Georgetown that suffered due to shoddy production. Or maybe it was the fact that many of the songs on the self-titled’s tracklist had already been released and played to death by me.

But when I started queuing up Cults on my iTunes, something started to change. The easiest thing to say would be that it clicked with me. From the moment the bass kicks in at 0:38 in the opening track, “Abducted,” Cults is on its way. Madeline Follin’s vocals never take a rest, creating some beautiful moments throughout the album.

While “Go Outside” and “Oh My God” were two popular songs from 2010, they fit the flow of the album perfectly, and each listen of the tracks is equally as refreshing as the first time they graced your ears.

An interesting take on Cults is the lyrical content. It’s been pointed out in a few reviews here and there, but the content of Follin’s vocals aren’t exactly as loving as they sound. Instead, much of the content is about independence and not wanting to be held down in a relationship. For the sunny sound of many of the songs, it’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Another solid trait regarding the album that I find is that there really isn’t a week track on on it. While the attention span might deviate from the task at hand for a little during the middle tracks of “Most Wanted,” “Walk At Night” and “Never Heal Myself,” it snaps back to the record with “Oh My God,” which sets up the stretch run of the album. “Never Saw The Point” is one of my favorites on the album, and its coupling with “Bad Things,” “Bumper” and “Rave On” ends the album on a good note. The ’60s girl group influence is most plainly seen on “Bumper,” in my view with the offbeat guitar strums and call-and-response vocals between Follin and Brian Oblivion.

With split expectations on this release, it’s safe to say that Cults met one side of the hype–the good side. As Cults surpasses nearly all expectations I had for it, it’ll be worth watching where this duo can take things from here.

Cults play Ottobar in Baltimore on Saturday, 6/11.

–Daniel

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