Where’s the Kool-Aid?
Cult Following, the second full-length album from Montreal-based singer-songwriter Little Scream (Lauren Sprengelmeyer), is a mixed bag – or perhaps mixed punch bowl – of highs and lows.
Sprengelmeyer has a distinct voice with a very wide range, which she utilizes uniquely in many of the tracks on Cult Following. For instance, while the majority of “Wreckage” is divided up between piercing hums and soft whispers, her voice echoes with the religious sincerity of a shrill gospel singer in “Silent Moon” and the laid-back, pop style of “Love as a Weapon” seems just as natural for Sprengelmeyer.
Not including the instrumental breaks, the first three tracks of Cult Following, “Love as a Weapon,” “Dark Dance” and “Evan,” are the record’s strongest. Both “Love as a Weapon” and “Dark Dance” are smooth, catchy jams that will keep your interest, while “Evan” is an interesting entanglement of folksy-gospel vocals and sporadic soft rock accompaniment.
Yet as the record goes on, its tracks become difficult to distinguish from one another. While “The Kissing” features an explosive and sudden addition of growling, intense electric guitar throughout the track, the remaining four full-length songs are rather flat and forgettable when considered without Sprengelmeyer’s beautiful voice.
The four instrumental breaks in the album are either redundant or serve to break up the attempted fluidity of the record. For instance, “Introduction to Evan” is thirty seconds of the instrumental accompaniment for the following song, “Evan,” which is already a five-minute piece. “Aftermath,” which precedes “The Kissing,” is simply more than a minute of the squealing of haunted rusted children’s toys, which is not only unenjoyable, but serves as a break between the already confusing mix of pop-style dance tracks and calm folksy tunes on Cult Following.
From “Evan” on, each track of Cult Following ends with thirty to sixty seconds of creepy, haunted house background music, which appears suddenly without any rhythmic or lyrical cues, except for “Goodbye Everybody,” the last track of the album, which is simply a repetition of the instrumental accompaniment for “Silent Moon.” In turn, the record seems extremely disjointed, with the first four tracks standing almost as a separate pop rock body, and the rest of the songs disconnected from each other by abrasive, unenjoyable conclusions which do not form a collective theme as the last track of the album does not feature such stylings.
In turn, Cult Following is a lot like an actual cult meeting. Sure, a person can be convinced to join by a golden-voiced prophet, but once the chips and dip are gone and the punch bowl and sacred texts come out, the real meat of the meeting is something you want to avoid.