I think it is safe to say that I’ve narrowed down my audience to one central demographic. That is, American two-piece indie bands that are signed to major labels, and are struggling with their sophomore album. I’m pretty sure that’s the major contingent of people that read my website, and it doesn’t seem specific at all, which is why I’m confident this review of Cults’ fantastic new record will appeal so strongly to my fanbase, as it is shows how best to execute that difficult sophomore record for maximum orgasm results.
Cults debut record took the indie world by storm, with cute, pixie vocals, surf-rock-meets-gospel sounds and overall nice vibes that seemed to flow so naturally from the band. That was 2011, so surely the world should have forgotten about this band by now? Don’t be so sure, as ‘Static’ has both cemented their trademark sound as something wholly applicable to Cults, as well as furthering the sound into people’s brains, and ensuring that this is a band here to stay, and not fade away like other 2011 ‘buzz bands’ (*cough* Foster the People *cough*).
Thankfully, every song on ‘Static’ buzzes with a warm life that swamps the brain cells for a reason not to be completely in love with Madeline Follin’s vocals. Lead single for the record ‘I Can Hardly Make You Mine’ gets the album kick started, with John Wayne guitar slicing through the record, and creating serious swagger for a band with only two members. The sound swells very naturalistically, and by the time you enter the chorus, it’s both like overseeing a massive rainforest and being spat on by ten thousand angels. The record maintains this upbeat and addictive position, swaying into a droopy-eyed and hushed melody ‘Always Forever’, rising to a haunted contentment on ‘High Road’, and washing out to the stormy-clouds-meets-peaceful-shanty-town on ‘Were Before’.
However, the dynamics that have been hinted at so strongly in these early songs come to fruition at this halfway point in the record. Shit just gets unreal, and the songs go up a gear, graduating from indie radio bait to stop-and-stare psychedelic gospel jams. ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘We’ve Got It’ are especially poignant tracks, tempering themselves like really fucking proud peacocks, aflush with an abundant array of colour.
However, it is the closer of ‘No Hope’ that really ties the album together. All these ideas and sounds that have ballooned this album’s sound out, from the small and mousy to the vibrant and electric-it all comes down to this beautifully dejected track, that manages to sound hopeful and hopeless at the same time. ‘No…hope…no…hope…for the wicked inside my soul’ swoons Follin, and for a second there, you almost believe it. Then you remember the dolphin squeal guitars, the organ harmonies, and tip-tap percussion that combats the dire lyrics, and the fact that Cults have created a song that depletes every artistic accomplishment you’ve ever made in your life comes crashing down on you. Hard.
Once ‘No Hope’ has resigned itself into nothingness, and contently tied down ‘Static’, there will be a dawning realisation that Cults are going to be around for a very long time. Why? Because Cults are very, very good at what they do, and they are not going any where. Their indie rock is just too memorable for that.
Cults’ ‘Static’ came out on the 15th of October, so you can buy it right now on iTunes (YAY! TERMS AND CONDITIONS AGREEMENTS!). They haven’t announced any dates yet, but here’s to hoping they get chucked onto the Laneway lineup at the last minute along with Washed Out, just so the greatest Laneway lineup ever can be accomplished. If that doesn’t turn out, then hopefully they get put on Golden Plains.