Cults’s Static Fails to Inspire

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Cults is an easily absorbed, lighthearted alternative rock duo based out of Manhattan.  Their self-titled 2011 debut album features feel good tunes centered on teen-angsty topics, such as feeling lost in a relationship, the search for one’s ego and the resolution just to say, “f*** it, I’m going to do me.”  Lead singer Madeline Follin sooths us with her sunny vocals set to airy piano and xylophone melodies.  Unsurprisingly, Cults achieved rapid success in the blogosphere. While the name of their powerhouse label, Columbia Records, would more or less guarantee the band fifteen minutes of fame, Cults nonetheless earned their way onto our iPods. Unfortunately, Cults’s sophomore release, Static, fails to inspire the same sentiment that being a pissed of young adult is cool.  Understandably, themes change as a band matures.  Group members grow older, experience corporate music pressures, and take on more responsibility.  But even their raw passion seems to have faded.  My ears hear a group weighted down by the same life woes over which they previously triumphed through song.

To their defense, Cults released Static in the wake of a long period of touring.  Perhaps they decided to focus on, as one critic contemplates, not “what they could be, but what they are right now…moodier, louder, more atmospheric.”

In any case, I miss the heartfelt, purposeful instrumentals and vocals featured on CultsStatic creates somewhat uncomfortable texture amidst a forest of dull guitar and keyboard riffs. While some bands have fared well with soundscape, Cults seems out of its element as it tries to intertwine multiple sounds into single a tune.  It’s a far step from their origins.  One that might take time to smooth out.

Lyrics, such as “You and me always forever/We could stay alone together/You and me always forever/So you’ll stay, never be suffer” lack substance.  Sentiments like these only skim the surface compared to more gripping lines, such as “He tore me apart because I really loved him/He took my heart away and left me to bleed out, bleed out,” from their earlier work.

All said, I plan to spend more time with the album in the future.  Some works take time to feel out.  It’s possible that I approached the album unfairly, expecting to hear more of what made me first fall in love.  Based on their debut album and their success on the road, Cults clearly has talent.  In time, I may appreciate the direction Cults has headed.  Until then, however, I’m unimpressed with the passion of Static.