First Listen: Cults, 'Static'

by Stephen Thompson

Cults' new album, Static, comes out Oct. 15.
Cults' new album, Static, comes out Oct. 15. (Courtesy of the artist)
  1. Listen Feature audio

    Oct 6, 2013

For Cults' Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, reinvigorating '60s-style girl-group pop means embracing both light and darkness; it's about deceptive sweetness and a haunting quality that makes the songs linger after they're gone. Like Cults' self-titled 2011 debut, the duo's new album Static (out Oct. 15) keeps its sound rooted in a kind of plaintive shimmer — Follin remains approachable even as her words tap into the mystery and desolation wired into many of the arrangements.

It's no accident that Static closes with a song called "No Hope," in which Follin yearns to "burn down the bridges," "burn down the town" and "forget tomorrow." For Cults, as it was for many of the band's forbears and influences, buoyant pop simply provides a mask for self-doubt and the eternal fatalism of vulnerable youth. That tension is far older than pop music itself, but on Static, Cults' members understand it, tap into it and bend it to their will and considerable skill.

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  • Cults performs in The Current studios The backstory of Manhattan band Cults is second-nature by now: originally a duo, Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin released a three-song EP on Bandcamp in 2010 that gradually gathered accolades over the next year. It eventually nabbed them a spot on famed major label Columbia Records, proof that no matter how small you start off, your impact can still be huge.

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