After creating a name for themselves with their first album cover in 2011, Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, a.k.a. Cults, are back, adding to the excitement of music in 2013. Their sophomore album, “Static” (via Columbia Records), is quite a load more of 60s-esque indie girl-pop rock. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, as the duo managed to hone a clear sense of this sound with their first album. It was neither experimental nor something that the members themselves were trying to understand as they created the tracks. The album created a clear message and had production that accommodated it perfectly. With this in mind, “Static” is a continued sound of the self-titled, but slightly more aggressive duo.
The album is short, sweet and under an hour long. Follin’s vocals lead the way with the opening track “I Know,” which sounds almost like a lullaby. It is like a reprise or an end to an album, but placed whimsically at the beginning, before the true upbeats start with “I Can Hardly Make You Mine.” The majority of the album is fast-paced and upbeat. Catchy bass lines and guitar riffs ooze from the instrumentals track to track, and each song is fully charged and ready to keep the listener moving, tapping, clapping and shaking. “High Road” and “Keep Your Head Up” are particularly memorable songs that add a little variety to Cults’ upbeat sound and nature, as they introduce 30-40 second build-ups that make the songs sound even more satisfying once they hit full swing.
The duo then sings a pair of songs together (“High Road” and “Were Before”), and their vocals mesh well when Follin tunes her own pitch down a couple of keys. The album continues in this fast-paced fashion, pausing for a short moment with “TV Dream,” a quick 1:03 ballad that allows listeners to bask in Follin’s uniquely childish vocals of which I am personally not a fan. Regardless, I can see that they have become iconic and recognized as Cults’ music. Whenever I hear that voice I know it is a Cults song, that’s for sure!
Toward the end of the album, however, focus starts to fade as the tracks start to blur into one another. That catchy guitar riff becomes the same one I hear in tracks eight, nine and 10, and it seems like that childish voice repeats her chorus a good five to six times. The song that closes the album, “No Hope,” an upbeat end, is, once again, reminiscent of previous tracks.
Overall, Cults delivers a lot more of the same with “Static.” Oblivion and Follin still play around a little bit with some tracks, but in such a way that is cautious and reminiscent of the sound they created with the first album. The album cover itself is even a continuation of the first iconic cover, which features the two members in mid-dance break, hair flying and hands waving. This time, the cover art takes “Static” to a literal meaning, as their figures resemble such. Cults have certainly made a name for themselves in the indie pop world, and will hopefully offer a little more playful experimentation in the future.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You’re willing to put up with more of the same from the indie pop duo.