Cults – Offering (Album Review)

Made in black and white with a delicious sense of noir, Cults are somehow uniquely modern. An East Coast duo that pairs the old with the new, they have definitely stepped up their retro game on their third studio release, Offering, which became available on Friday, October 6, 2017 thanks to Sinderlyn.

A pair of New York City film school dropouts, Cults – Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion – got their start in 2010 while still students, and arose to popularity through their Bandcamp page online. Finding themselves signed to Lily Allen’s In the Name Of label, the duo would release a pair of videos that featured the likes of Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, and, in a separate vid, Jim Jones and his Jonestown cult. Their self-titled debut hit shelves in 2011 with follow-up Static releasing in 2013. What followed would be a whirlwind of touring, press, music videos, and glorious fandom.

Now returning after four years to bespell an eardrum near you, Cults present their third studio release, Offering. Produced by Follin (who plays keyboards and drums throughout) and Oblivion (who handles guitars) – along with the help of longtime engineer Shane Stoneback (Sleigh Bells, Carly Rae Jepson)  – the eleven-song journey finds the pair creating tracks that are evocative, full of far-ranging sounds, from 1960s Lesley Gore to 1980s T’Pau, to 2000s Echosmith. The pair also admit that Pink Floyd were a large influence, this time around.

Offering begins with its titular track, where a delicious ‘80s New Wave influence permeates every nook and cranny. A dark tale of attempting to impress the one who owns your heart, Follin’s angelic vocals weave a bittersweet melancholy that feels somehow anthemic. Scrumptious, fat bass-lines caress the vocals on “I Took Your Picture,” while, in an echo of its own lyrics, the music of “With My Eyes Closed” free-falls into the ‘60s with an ethereal, heavenly float.

The entire package that is “Recovery” is a stellar offering from Cults, highlighting their meandering New Wave style and Follin’s luscious, saccharine vocals. It moves the duo into the equally marvelous “Right Words,” the story of an off-kilter timeline set to trance-y atmospherics that create an overall zen experience. More peaceful, flowing Indie Pop sweetness meets the 1960s in the oxymoronic “Good Religion,” the missing piece. It slowly fades out, branching toward “Natural State,” where delicious denial weaves into a beautifully sweeping exploration of the light.

Whisper-soft vocals go ‘round and ‘round to the sounds of “Nothing Is Written,” where nothing is given. It echoes the frustrated melancholy of “Talk In Circles,” the album’s ‘heaviest’ track – where some garage-worthy angst creeps into the mix. A steady, bopping beat holds down “Clear From Far Away,” a sweetly-sounding ode to perspective, and the duo end on a beautiful high with the soaring atmospherics of “Gilded Lily,” a gorgeous finale to a stellar album.

From start to finish, Offering is a beautifully done album, full of intelligent, poetic lyrics and meandering retro-tinged sonics that invite comparisons to a plethora of artists across the past six decades. Sweet but serious, deadly but danceable, Cults are a melting pot of Indie Pop music sounds set to hopeful yet melancholic poetry. For the streaming generation, check out “Recovery,” “Right Words,” and “Gilded Lily” for a delicious taste of Cults. For those who love a good earworm and all things noir, do not miss Cults or Offering, which CrypticRock gives 4.5 of 5 stars.

Tour Dates:
Oct 14 Johnny Brendas, Philadelphia, PA
Oct 15 Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
Oct 17 Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Oct 18 Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA
Oct 19 The Hollow, Albany, NY
Oct 20 Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Canada
Oct 21 Marble Bar, Detroit, MI
Oct 22 Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL
Oct 24 Fine Line, Minneapolis, MN
Oct 25 High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI
Oct 26 Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA
Oct 27 Bemis Center of Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE
Oct 28 Globe Hall, Denver, CO
Oct 29 Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 31 Nuemos, Seattle, WA

Purchase Offering:

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