11 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Only Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion know the truth. But the two of them—who ended their romantic partnership sometime before the making of Cults' second album, 2013’s Static—certainly know how to turn a bad situation into captivating listening for their audience. The duo’s gorgeous Wall of Sound–style pop (part Phil Spector, part gothic Cure) resonates positively, while the perceived emotional devastation turns lyrics like “Should have took the high road/Now my days have all turned black” into the voice for every devastated ex-lover. Considering how well these two work together musically, it’s a wonder whether their pain is directed at each other or the idea of loss and failure. A final song like “No Hope,” wrapped as it is in thick reverb and multitracked vocal layers, comes across less like a cry for help than an artful, natural ending to a story with no winners. Follin’s deliberately stoic delivery either distances itself from the truth, provides a sense of ironic dissonance, or steels her frazzled nerves. In either case, “We’ve Got It” throws out a hook and an ebullient bounce worthy of happier times.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Only Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion know the truth. But the two of them—who ended their romantic partnership sometime before the making of Cults' second album, 2013’s Static—certainly know how to turn a bad situation into captivating listening for their audience. The duo’s gorgeous Wall of Sound–style pop (part Phil Spector, part gothic Cure) resonates positively, while the perceived emotional devastation turns lyrics like “Should have took the high road/Now my days have all turned black” into the voice for every devastated ex-lover. Considering how well these two work together musically, it’s a wonder whether their pain is directed at each other or the idea of loss and failure. A final song like “No Hope,” wrapped as it is in thick reverb and multitracked vocal layers, comes across less like a cry for help than an artful, natural ending to a story with no winners. Follin’s deliberately stoic delivery either distances itself from the truth, provides a sense of ironic dissonance, or steels her frazzled nerves. In either case, “We’ve Got It” throws out a hook and an ebullient bounce worthy of happier times.

TITLE TIME
1:42
3:30
3:43
4:28
3:01
3:28
3:38
1:02
3:25
3:14
3:44

About Cults

Cults' twinkling experimental pop arrived in a shroud of mystery early in 2010, when the group posted three songs on its Bandcamp page. One of those songs was "Go Outside," which mixed dream pop haze with girl group harmonies (and, fittingly, samples of Jonestown leader Jim Jones) and earned the band acclaim from publications including Pitchfork and NME. Eventually, Cults' core duo was revealed as guitarist Brian Oblivion and vocalist Madeline Follin, who were also a couple. Later in 2010, Cults released Go Outside as a single on Forest Family Records and performed shows with bands including Best Coast. Early in 2011, the group made its U.K. debut and signed to Columbia Records; Cults' self-titled album, which featured production by Shane Stoneback, arrived in the middle of that year. The duo ended their relationship in the wake of their debut, yet continued to work on music together. Their second album, 2013's Static, took inspiration from their split and the pressures of growing up. Following the 2014 single "Being It," Cults took some time off, during which Madeline Follin formed the group Follin with her brother, Guards' Richie James Follin. For their next album, the pair took a more collaborative approach, with Follin playing drums and keyboards as well as singing. After working with engineer Shane Stoneback in studios in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cults emerged in 2017 with Offering, which borrowed from influences as wide-ranging as Pink Floyd, Gary Numan, and the Motels. ~ Heather Phares

  • ORIGIN
    New York, NY [Manhattan]
  • FORMED
    2010

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