It's mid December.. So I'm reviewing Cult's debut album, an album which has been considered a summer album; so this shall be interesting. Hailing from New York, the duo recite sweet Indie Pop, sad songs about love and combine it with lo-fi recordings. My point of reference is way out in the open with this, not one notch of originality has been put into this album, it's going to be a hard read if you're a fan.
Let's start with the opener, 'Abducted'. It's a three chord, acoustic guitar song with an 'explosion' - if you want to call it that, then eventual increased volume with the male vocals and repetition of the chorus and song name. I just have that feeling of despair so early, the 60's Soul feeling is heard clearly, so is the Indie Pop aesthetic they go by. My gripe is about the originality.. I don't want to hear this material if it's already been done 5,000 times in the past, which is one of the main reasons I cant listen to the usual, predictable popular music on radio.
The synthesizer on 'Go Outside' is great, it really is. I mean it.. No, it's just predictable and easily accessible. The drum work is hardly significant, sounding faint and empty without any meaning other than to keep the song moving, which it does. The vocals are also faint and distorted for no reason to be honest, she's clearly a good singer but the lo-fi style here just isn't needed if the bass is clear, the synth is clear and the drumming is clear. Nothing can be said about the song, I've heard it several times and nothing sticks with me, it's incredibly hard to understand what she's saying.. So what's the point, it's not like her voice adds to the greatness of the track, the effects added are some of the stupidest fucks I've heard in a long while, I'm sick of this shit.
'You Know What I Mean' sounds like a Christmas song to be honest. The soul influence is clearly heard with the tempo, the bass and the vocal style which sounds familiar, but I'm not quite sure where I've heard it from. The vocals are clearer than the previous song, with better effects and far more passion. The synth line is also very melodic and swaying in a dream pop fashion.
We hear a brighter mood with 'Most Wanted', but not in a 'fun' way. 'Walk At Night' has better soundscapes but it just goes over my head. The bass is steady but has no real sticky effect, same with the vocals. The vocals are again plagued with effects and you can hardly pick four words out in the entire song. The key work from Go Outside can almost be heard in 'Never Heal Myself', with the same sounding keys and almost perfect notations. Perfect in the way both songs sound alike, which is bad, good job it's only for the intro. The typical three guitar chords enter with sparse drumming which is now common for Cults. This song does have some interesting lyrics however, I did actually like the line "But i can never be myself so fuck you".. Very childish, but I like it.
The stronger sounding 'Oh My God' is the best track on the album. With a faster tempo and a stronger structure, it becomes very likable to the listener. I feel that it could use some extra work on the vocals, but by now you should know that the vocals are styled this way for effect, even if the effect is bad. This track definitely, 100% has better bass than anything heard previously by the duo. The well structured 'Bad Things' sounds fantastic. The vocals work well with the slight bass notes, not to mention the extremely stylistic drumming and vocal samples which feature in the final third of the song. This is possibly the strongest drumming track on the album, even though the drumming is minimal.
Cults suffer from lack of originality. I want to say lack of skill, but they can actually write a decent track. The vocals are respectable, but nothing is heard clearly, like with Loveless, except Loveless is intended to sound this way. The same sounding tracks don't sit well, so it's a good job the album is only 34 minutes long. An extensive listen wont give you further detail. It's a basic album with basic instrumentation and terrible vocal effects. I wouldn't want to hear a follow up album if it's anything like this. Not impressed!!!