Boy/girl duos seem to be a dime-a-dozen these days. The indie scene is teeming with them…Sleigh Bells, The Kills, She & Him, Cat’s Eyes…here in New Zealand we have Porceliantoy. The latest to make a name for themselves is Cults, Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, a couple who met at aSan Franciscofilm school and are now based inNew York City. Their initial indie singles garnered so much attention that they were immediately signed up by Lily Allen’s new label, distributed by Sony. So, while they are technically no longer an indie band, they sure sound like it.
Like a lot of these acts, they base their sound on a retro-early 60s girl group vibe. Evidently reminiscing about The Shangri-las, The Ronettes and Lesley Gore is the thing to do these days, even if you are way too young to have heard them in their day.
Retro is fine if you add something to it and build on it. But it seems the only thing these two have added is an impenetrable layer of echo and reverb over everything. So while Madeline warbles away on songs like Most Wanted and Walk At Night, the lyrics are virtually obliterated by a mix that overwhelms her singing and the afore-mentioned echo that makes her singing indecipherable when you can hear hit.
Which leaves us with the music. This is a style that demands a strong melody, and while a few of the 11 tracks are somewhat memorable, overall the melodies are pretty weak. I know Go Outside was a fairly big hit a few months ago when it was released as a single, but hearing in the context of these other 10 tunes takes away any charm it may have had.
Fortunately, the album is relatively short. But if these two are going to have any kind of long-term future are recording artists they’d better raise their game. Everything here has been done before and better.
Click here to listen to Never Saw The Point from Cults: