I listened to the whole of Cults’ new album, Static, for the first time while flipping through used material in Richmond’s Plan 9 Music. As a foraging soundtrack, it was perfect. It was also unmistakable. I spent much of the summer of 2011 drowned in the bubbling bright wash of the band’s self-titled debut. It’s not really something I listen to anymore, because I left it back in a different period of my life, and when Madelin Follin’s distinctively pretty squeal hit my ears I was almost taken aback.
At the time of their debut, the band was at the forefront of the girl-group revival happening in 100% lo-fidelity. They took it further than any other, and I think somehow the total stylistic commitment afforded them the best tracks. Cults has some real pop gems. I figured, though, that they had their moment. If they followed the normal curve, Cults would have put out another album almost identical to their first but lacking in something, probably heart. But what did Mark Twain say about statistics again? They’re bullshit?
The new record immediately scored points with me when the supremely Spector-ish opener “I Know” evaporated quickly into the clear, almost unprecedented “I Can Hardly Make You Mine.” The track has more to do with Tame Impala than the Ronettes. Of course, the girl-group thing is still there. I’d be a little of putting if they just threw it away. In many ways, Static feels to me like a transitional album - the band are, bravely, breaking away from a mold that could have easily suffocated the life from their music. Now they’ve just got to find a new, more freeing place to settle down.