It’s tough getting to know Cults, although it seems just about everyone is starting to know OF them. They don’t have a biography on their official website. Their twitter is rarely updated, and when it is, it’s only to share information on tour dates. Their Myspace has been left as sparse as possible. They’re an internet ghost town.
And yet, hype for the band has spread like wildfire. Since the release of a three track EP on their Bandcamp page, they’ve been featured on Pitchfork’s “Best New Music,” been interviewed by NPR, and, after releasing this year’s smash-hit self titled LP, Cults, they’ve have been found on an innumerable “Best of 2011 So Far” lists. So what’s the big deal?
For starters, they have an awfully cute background story. Brian Oblivion, lead guitarist, and Madeline Follin, vocalist, met as classmates at New York University. They soon fell in love and moved in together, and although they were both film majors, their deep background in music began to shine through. All this happened in a matter of a couple years. By 2010, they had written, recorded, and produced the aforementioned three tracks in their little apartment, and posted them online to share with friends and family. Within days, their phone was ringing off the hook with record deals.
About a year later, on June 7th, 2011, we have Cults, a 33 minute sun-drenched romp through playgrounds and jungle gyms. Gripping on first listen but deep enough to last plenty of spins, Cults seems as though it was written with Summer in mind. Take, for example, the hit track “Go Outside,” featuring lyrics such as: “I really want to go out and make it light all day/ because if you don’t you’ll never make a memory that’ll stay.” It seems like Follin didn’t want to take her words too seriously on Cults, and in the context of the album, it fits well. Almost every track features what sounds like a Fisher-Price keyboard backing up Follin’s melody, and her voice has been produced so light and airy, you can almost taste the sweet sugar dripping off of her words. Behind her is Oblivion, who sets up basic percussive rhythms and catchy-as-hell bass lines to round out the sound. Every now and again he’ll throw in a line or two of lyrics, which help to balance out those brief instances where your ears are unsure it can take any more happiness.
It’s hard not to compare Cults to last summer’s big sensation, Sleigh Bells, as they both feature a woman on vocals with her male companion playing the supporting roll. What you get on Cults, though, is a much mellower sound; Where on any given Sleigh Bells track you feel as though your speakers could blow with one more slam on the guitar, Cults give a more relaxed feel, as if the Beach Boys were to have met up with Be Your Own Pet, telling them to crank it down a few notches and relax. On that note, any track off of Cults would be perfect for the sandy beach, whether your out in the beating sun learning to surf, or settling in for the night next to a raging bon-fire. It’s sound is just meant for a warmer, brighter climate.
Whether or not Follin and Oblivion have tapped in on something with Cults that will be able to stand the test of time remains to be seen. While it’s easy to see the LP breezing by, there’s also a lot of potential here for it to remain a staple in the indie scene for a number of months to come. The more important question, then, becomes whether or not the couple can back up such an attention-grabbing freshman debut with a sturdy, spotlight-demanding sophomore effort. Until then, the natural light of the sun will do the spotlight’s job just fine.
Written by Dean Goranites