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The Music Sounds Better: Cults create perfect summer soundtrack with retro debut

By Julian De Ocampo ’13
THE ROUNDUP

Cults  –  Cults
8.8

Remember Tennis?

That really great ocean-themed retro-pop band that blew the blogosphere to bits last year with “Marathon”? Remember how they could never top that song and everything else they created sounded the same? Yeah, that was a shame.

Remember Cults? The band that sounded sort of totally like Tennis and started growing popular at the same exact time? The band that really shocked the world with the wonderfully sunny and equally breezy “Go Outside”?

Well, they finally released their debut self-titled album, and I’m happy to say that this is what everyone was hoping for when this brand of breezy 60s retro-pop first started bubbling a little over a year ago.

But what makes Cults so much more of a success than Tennis? I mean, both groups have girly 60s vocals that sound almost indistinguishable at times. But where Cults succeeds lies in how those vocals are used.

Madelin Follin sounds absolutely angelic on most tracks. For example, on the stunning “Oh My God,” she invokes an era of romanticized innocence and acts as our suburban heroine on the album, leading us through lines like “Oh my god, I’m stuck in the same lame tradition / I’m so tired of thinking of the things I’ve been missing.”

Don’t be mistaken, this is a very suburban album. It’s about boredom and isolation and wanting to do anything to get some excitement out of life.

It’s also about those petty teenage romances that seems to crop up every summer. In a way, it makes perfect sense for the album to be released at this time, when millions of kids are sitting at home hoping for excitement.

I’ve always romanticized the 60s myself. I like to think that any era where people go to sock hops and hang out in diners a la Happy Days can’t be too bad. Cults continues my infatuation with this decade, with Shangri-Las-esque vocals. Look, they even named one song “Rave On,” totally knicking a Buddy Holly song title.

Check out the boy-girl duet on “Bumper,” which is just asking for a Grease montage to be set to it. Look, we may be living in an era of smart phones and smart cars and smart everything, but Cults is album where we can all pretend to be a little more naive and a little more innocent — just like the good old days.

Julian De Ocampo is The Roundup’s Managing Editor of Online Content and also writes his own music blog, Faulty Fidelity.

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