Shrouded in the mystery of their infectious indie pop, Cults‘ self-titled debut will sweep you off to an era of sultry girl groups and 60’s pop. Cults is certainly a strong debut, filled with lusty, romantic tracks heavy in sinister lyrics. But, it’s missing the same energy and lasting impression as their much talked about bandcamp EP, Cults 7.
The duo of Madeline Folin and Brian Oblivion gained a large internet buzz, thanks in part to that EP. Currently signed to Lily Allen’s label, In the Name Of, more details continue to leak out about this once mysterious twosome, but for now, the music mostly has to speak for itself. Their debut begins strongly with “Abducted”, where whimsical bells and swirling guitar-work, heavy on reverb, back this tale of a heartbreak told from two different perspectives.
Following two tracks saturated in pop, including previously well received “Go Outside”, the album begins to lose its way for a time. A slow love ballad filled with steady finger snaps has its place, but it takes away from such a spirited beginning. Even album closer “Rave On” falls trap to this same mistake. Though it’s an interesting song supported by organs and guitar riffs, it’s not the energetic closer Cults so desperately needed.
Here, lyrics are fused with the bitterness of a scorned lover, and then surrounded by playful instrumentals fans have grown to love. Take the hazy “Heal Myself”, a track thick in mischievous bells and light percussion, which quickly turns bitter (“But I can never heal myself/So fuck you”). Folin shows she has prowess as a front woman, with her sultry voice taking jabs directly at lost love. “I’ll be just fine on my own,” she assures on “Never Saw the Point”.
For a debut album, it works, giving fans a taste of what to expect from Cults in the future. But, the album could have benefited from swapping a few tracks around and sticking with the earnest catchy sensibilities and immediately favorable pop-like nature.