Cults have come forth with the follow up to their successful debut, simply titled Static. It is a proper sequel, sharing the familiar ’60s pop/noise/garage/dreamgaze motif, but edging things up a bit more. These guitars are gritty, grainy and perhaps owe a bit more to the Cults live experience. This makes sense as the band spent quite a bit of time touring their first record.
Singer Madeline Follin and guitarist Brian Oblivion are apparently no longer a couple, but this has not affected their ability to work together, composing aurally-vast pop songs that perfectly pair atmosphere and hooks. Follin’s voice is a big part of this, bouncing between a high childlike pleading and a cool girl-next-door parlance. This is what makes Cults share the sonic palette with both the likes of Lesley Gore and Tegan & Sara, not to mention Juliana Hatfield or Tanya Donelly.
After a slower introduction, the album kicks into action on “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” with its Motown beat and distorting Farfisa, not to mention those aforementioned guitars. “High Road” starts with clanging and a funky bass riff, sounding much like a Beck jam until the pre-chorus comes in sounding a bit too much like Peter, Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks.” “So Far” is fantastic, off kilter and melodically grand, Follin punching the perfect payoff “and I wonder how you sleep at night.” The album continues strong with “We’ve Got It,” an innocently murky song that pounds home the plea “There’s no one else for me but you / There’s only you, my love.”
The album concludes on a sad note with the funky “No Hope.” The song has a cool groove that eventually drops out, and then booms and crashes alongside an epic guitar solo and the sad assertion that there is no hope “For the wicked inside myself” or “For the wicked or the good.” The forlorn closer might very well be personal in origin, but the Cults couple have shown they can carry on and write a good record. And I have plenty of hope there will be more in the future.