Cults first turned heads earlier this year with the release of theirÂ Go Outside 7â€. Hailing from Brooklyn, the band seemed to disappear into anonymity for several months before announcing their self-titled first album would be streaming on NPR before itâ€™s physical release June 7. The result is a collection of hard-edged sweetness punctuated by the echoey, Siren-esque vocals of Madeline Follin to go with Brian Oblivionâ€™s fuzzy guitar hooks- as well as a xylophone cameo and the usual Pep Rally percussion. It can be easy for the sounds of Post-Homage to get cheeky in a hurry. Just ask The Raveonettes- whose potential seems currently stunted by the lo-fi distorted self-awareness that followed their successful debut- 2008â€™sÂ Lust Lust Lust.Â Cults, however, is an exercise in wistful innocence with nary a wink or nudge.
An addictive blend of indifferent brood/rock laced with powdered sugar, Cultsâ€™ self-titled debut album feels as if it was recorded in a haunted drive-in theater. It reinvents the wide-eyed harmonies of 1960s Midwestern Americana by eerily adhering to ancient principles within a modern era- the results are as toe-tappingly wonderful as they are sinister. The listener anticipates a casual 21st century self-referential irony with this type of genre exercise. Yet the band refuses to break the fourth wall. Instead they indulge the darkness beneath the seamless facade- all the while with a straight-faced effervescence.Â Cults is an album that rewards those who listen closely (eg -the origin of the album samples preceding â€œGo Outsideâ€, the vague sense of restless edginess which sneaks itâ€™s way into Follinâ€™s vocals). This is substance over style- only the substance is a fierce commitment to style, leaving the listener with a ghostly vision of meta-nostalgia. And if that sounds convoluted for an album full of sockhop ditties, itâ€™s okay- because Cults have sugarcoated their ambition in accessibility. With a tone so faultlessly Malt Shoppe/The Archies that it becomes almost Lynchian, Dirty Beachesâ€™Â Badlands would be an ideal double feature.