Cults – Static

by The Insomniac

Top Tracks: High Road, So Far, Shine a Light, Were Before

After rummaging through old records that flew under my radar, I came across this gem of an album from NY duo Cults, a band you probably know better from their self-titled debut back in 2011 which had a few weeks of love from the airwaves before disappearing completely. Their first record was full of catchy, highly-polished, one-hitters which seemed like they belonged on the B-Side collection from a beach pop band 30 years ago.

2013’s Static, if anything, is a much fuller exhale of expression. This record is less cheery letting its space fill with a gloomy confusion and a silky dark synthetic atmosphere not present before. The first few tracks are simple, shallow, and messy, as if the two of them weren’t sure where this album was supposed to lead. Maybe this is why it didn’t get as much attention as their first release – admittedly, even I was about to turn it off and move on (see “Always Forever”).

Then I heard “High Road”. Finally, it seems they let that dark confusion breathe and define the room around them. Strong synths immediately demand your attention, a shimmering wall of light, before melting away to let front-woman Madeline Follin sing her tune. Constantly evolving, each bridge is a dark journey into the night of her thoughts, eventually and repeatedly saved by those constantly amplifying strings, drawing you into their shattered world deeper and deeper until the track ends with a haunted choir and faded drums. This is also one of the first times we hear Brian Oblivion’s voice join in to support his partner, who takes the lead on most songs, which was a welcome change.

The trilogy of this track and the two that follow, “Were Before” and “So Far”, are what convinced me to post this. It’s not my typical band or sound, but there was a true longing behind every song that hung with me. There seems to be a loss of some kind, but almost as if they don’t know what it is they lost exactly, that feeling of opening every door only to find the remnants of someone who had just left, moved on to leave you in a perpetual wake.

From their Wikipedia:

Of the album’s title, band member Brian Oblivion said, “There’s a feeling our generation has. The feeling there’s always something better around the corner, that everyone is born to be a star. The feeling that life is waiting for you, and yet it’s not happening. All of that is static.”

On the last track, “No Hope”, Follin softens her voice for the first time, defeated. The end leaves you with a weeping guitar and a ghostly piano, before being consumed by the inevitable static.

Cults Website