Cynics would have you believe Cults are the work of marketing men, a dishonest attempt at adopting trends and riding the zeitgeist for monetary gains. That Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion were wooing the blogosphere before Lily Allen and her Columbia imprint came along is swept aside because, well, Cults are totally inauthentic, duh.
It’s an attitude that many front when faced with a band as talked about as this one – suspicion and caution the preferred reaction over giving bands a chance and the thought that for a band to be so hyped there might just be at least something positive about them, however slight. It’s a shame for those who hold those attitudes in relation to the New York based pair because they’re missing out on one of the finest debut albums of 2011 thus far.
Cults is, in many ways, a pure pop masterpiece, all big hooks and gleamingly polished. It possesses a glamour that runs deep through each song, shining out through Follin’s dynamic vocals. The early songs that got the web buzzing – ‘Go Outside’ and ‘Oh My God’ – stand out as now familiar friends, recognisable landmarks in Cults’ journey. What is perhaps a little surprising though is that these aren’t the best songs on the record, by a long way.
To which song exactly that accolade should be given is hard to decipher. Album opener ‘Abducted’, with its lyrical mirroring between Follin and Oblivion, and its ability to make having your heart broken sound so alluring and exciting, certainly makes a case for it but then the switch between the demure verses and thundering chorus in ‘You Know What I Mean’ is so exquisitely executed it strips the former track of all its glory in an instant. The 60s shimmy of ‘Never Saw The Point’ fights hard for the crown too but the 1-2 knockout punch of the instantly memorable ‘Bad Things’ and ‘Rave On’ just about secures the victory. In short, it’s hard to choose because Cults gets continuously better with each track and each listen.
It’s not all perfect (although it’s pretty darn near to it) though. ‘You Know What I Mean’ feels too short, as if the duo got distracted before they could properly complete it. The fade out on ‘Abducted’ similarly feels like Follin and Oblivion are short changing the listener, depriving them of a proper ending and giving them the lazy option of ‘repeat to fade’. But these are minor gripes that can easily be ignored when devoured as part of the whole rather than individually.
Cults might not be an outsider album railing against the trends and fads of 2011 and the band that created it may be painfully cool but neither of these – or any other – cynical criticisms should detract from the fact it is the nearest to pop perfection anyone’s got in the last six months. Authentic or not, you can’t really argue with that.
Release date: 30th May 2011