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Cults – Static Review

Cults had a pretty successful debut in 2011 with the self title Cults. They didn’t smash any boundaries or anything but songs such as ‘Abducted’ showed their ability to take the generic indie fodder and re-envisage it through a more wide scale and spaced out recording method while keeping it generally engaging. You’ve no doubt heard ‘Go Outside’ from that album too. The almost purely vocal performance that seemed to be promoting every TV, camera and car in 2011. It was a solid foundation and one they should be able to build upon as their sound can still be pushed and developed in a few areas for sure. It will be hard to whip up interest in the future if they have an album that falls down from their first.

‘High Road’ was the first single to come from the album in September. There seems to be a greater sense of rhythm with the song at first and perhaps more focus on the instrumentals than on the vocals and the result is a less Indie and pop leaning sound to a more Shoe-gaze and Dream-pop sort of sound but only in a subtle manner. Madeline’s vocals also seem to have developed and matured well too, with a less naïve sounding vocal but one that remains light and wistful already without the washed out effects on her voice. This runs along with Brian’s deeper backing vocal which even gives the vocal on it’s own a sense of depth. The synths are more washed out as well while the bass is more isolated and creates more of a groove which along with the percussion; gives the song added ballast and a greater depth while still remaining light and echoed. The guitar plugs the melody much more too and their added experience really shows with this song with the intertwining elements and changes in shift and tone linked together well. ‘I Can Hardly Make You Mine’ opens with a little more gritty, reverbing guitar with simple percussion and a rising and tumbling bass line underneath it. The synths give pointers to the melody in its drowned out and whirring fashion. The song progression takes a turn when Madeline’s vocals begin. It ushers in rhythm and more obvious hooks while she really belts out the lyrics at the end of the chorus, She has her vocals recorded with a less obvious and short lived echo that takes effect mid-note. This contrasts well with the lower chords of the piano and the general arrangement of all these various elements is utilised effectively. It is far less spaced out and much more blockier in sound but within it the various elements blend in or work with each other. Another song to demonstrate their growing recording techniques as well as their ability in terms of playing too.

‘I Know’ gives much focus to melody and harmony yet channelled through reverb and washed out vocals. The light delicate reverb of the main riff is met with a soft and whirring synth. None of the sounds are captured and they all dissolve into each other for a considered and very atmospheric opening to the album. ‘Always Forever’ utilises the bass line as the foundation for which everything stems from. Those whirring synths and melodic lead guitar riffs are isolated from Madeline’s very high toned and naïve vocal that intertwine with the backing vocals only. A real sugar coated piece of Dreamscape pop. ‘No Hope’ continues with the echoed and soft reverb of the synths and percussion. It really kicks up with a rhythm with the shift in percussion and inclusion of vague bass line that simply ties all the floating and wistful elements down. The vocals are again very refined and consistent at a high pitch but remains tuneful and harmonious too. The opposite is true with the outro and demonstrates the limits she’s pushing her voice to successfully. As well as this, there is such a great focus and consideration of production methods and its clear to see with their soundscape and tone progressions. A certain development and blossoming from their debut.

Cults – Static = 8/10

Image from www.ukmix.org