Cults – Cults (In The Name Of/Columbia)

May 12, 2011 by  

The New York real life couple Cults are duo Madeline Follin and Brain Oblivion (Videodrome fans should recognise the name) that have come from ‘nothing’ to ‘something’. They were just a couple of Film school students who started by blowing up the blog universe with their song “Go Outside”, a ’60s style lo-fi pop tune twinkling with glockenspiel and candy coated vocals from the female half. The only way to get this was their Bandcamp page which might as well have had tumbleweed graphics rolling across it. Now fast forward to May 2011, Cults have become the first signing for Lily Allen’s Columbia Records sub-label In The Name Of and are releasing their self-titled debut, which is definitely ‘something’.

The album takes the Pleasantville pop from the 1950s and makes it belong in today’s music scene without spoiling it, tracks like “Bumper” and “Most Wanted” are prime examples of this. “Bumper” is a back and forth sing off with Follin and Oblivion taking their Sandy and Danny “Summer Nights” roles, it has the potential to sound irritatingly cheesy but instead it’s pulled off coolly. “Most Wanted” sees Follin release her siren like vocals in a similar style to April March over some charming piano playing and a doo-wop backbeat.

“You Know What I Mean” sees the group dropping their milkshakes at the diner routine and creating a darkly sweet love song which plays like a last dance at a Twin Peaks High School prom. Follin’s dreamy vocals are laid on top of this otherworldly construction of trance like finger clicking and hypnotizing synth samples, and then out of nowhere arrives an alarm like chorus which brings you back to reality.

Voice samples are frequent throughout the album and are probably down to the duo’s educational background. They don’t really affect the album positively or negatively, but sometimes it feels like they are just placed in a song for the hell of it. Some are cleverly inserted like the creepy Jim Jones sample at the start of “Go Outside” which offers some dark sarcasm to Follin’s lyrics, and others just serve as a quite meaningless introduction like in “Oh My God” and “Abducted”.

Many people will be “drinking the Kool-Aid” for Cults upon hearing the album in its entirety, but I don’t blame them, this is a refreshing take on a style of music which has been long forgotten. Let’s just hope they keep this form for their next release and they are not watered down by their new boss.

[rating:4]


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