Cults

 
Cults sound like the moment dawn breaks. Akin to light piercing a dark corner, the multiplatinum New York duo, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion—temper shadowy cinematic soundscapes with flickering melodic singalongs. This uncanny ability to balance alternative sonic architecture with unassuming pop songcraft has threaded their music into the DNA of 21st century culture. True outliers, they persist as the rare phenomenon equally comfortable collaborating with The Weeknd, rap titan J. Cole or maverick indie director Jim Jarmusch. Simultaneously, they’re a dynamic presence that’s just as at home on stage at Coachella as they are supporting The Pixies and Vampire Weekend. All the while, their music has surged through popular television series and films.
 
However, the pair confidently and clearly perfect their signature vision on their fifth full-length LP, To The Ghosts [IMPERIAL].
 
“Without knowing it, we’ve spent our whole career building a world of our own,” observes Brian. “We just try to create the emotion that we want to feel. This record is another piece of the picture, but the picture isn’t done yet. We’d be in Cults no matter what. It’s the way we live our lives.”
 
“We’ve never known life any other way,” agrees Madeline. “We began the band in college, and we haven’t stopped. Cults is life.”
 
The group first materialized out of New York in 2010. Thus far, they’ve built a world anchored by four acclaimed albums, namely Cults [2011], Static [2013], Offering [2017], and Host [2020]. Along the way, the staple “Always Forever” reached RIAA platinum status, and Offering’s “Gilded Lily” endured as a phenomenon. It took TikTok by storm with 200K-plus “creates” in 2022 and notched a gold certification. Their loyal legion of fans includes early devotees, as well as new converts who organically discovered them along the way. Their virality is a testament to the band’s relatable lyricism and authenticity which consistently resonates with audiences.
 
Expanding their impact, they appeared on J. Cole’s 6x-platinum smash “She Knows” [feat. Cults & Amber Coffman] in addition to co-writing with everyone from G-Eazy to Freddie Gibbs. Beyond selling out venues on headline tours and shining on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, they graced the bills of Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and more. Not to mention, they have garnered tastemaker praise courtesy of NPR, Paste, Clash, Pitchfork, and The Ringer, to name a few. They’ve quietly gathered over 1.5 billion streams and regularly averaged north of 12.7 monthly listeners on Spotify. Their music has also powered campaigns for Garnier, Madewell, and Vuori as well as landing major syncs on NETFLIX, HBO, Showtime, and ABC.
 
Embarking on the next chapter, they carefully crafted To The Ghosts, writing and recording in Brian’s apartment. The earliest ideas dated back to the Pandemic when they crafted music on weekdays from 10am-5pm without a deadline. In 2022, they traveled to Los Angeles in order to collaborate with longtime producer and trusted creative confidant Shane Stoneback because “nobody can read our minds like he can, jests Madeline.
 
This time around, stream-of-conscious vocals set the process in motion.
 
“This is the first record where I would pick up the microphone and sing whatever I was feeling,” recalls Madeline. “The vocals and the lyrics really helped inform the direction rather than the other way around. Every track brings me back to what I was going through at the time.”
 
“Sometimes, we used to work on a song for a year, put a vocal on it, and redo it,” Brian goes on. “This time, we tried to get in front of everything. As soon as put down some chords and a rhythm, it was like, ‘Let’s start singing.We really focused on the sentiment, emotion, and vibe.”
 
Cults introduce To The Ghosts with “Crybaby.” Right out of the gate, symphonic bells toll above a tribal beat laced with a dissonant guitar riff. Shaky tambourine gives way to a swooning horn section, and Madeline’s croon echoes with a lament, “Crybaby, you waste a lot of time it seems.
 
‘Crybaby’ was the first key that opened the box,” notes Brian. “It got us back-to-basics and opened up the possibility to do something that was us. You could say it’s the most ‘Cults song’ on the record.”
 
“It’s so us,” Madeline concurs. “It’s very straightforward and honest too.”
 
Ethereal guitar wraps around a hypnotic backbeat on “Left My Keys.” The synths shimmer, and Madeline exhales, “I can feel it happening again.
 
“It’s about growing up and feeling like you’re being left behind,” she reveals. “You think you’re missing out on things and not accomplishing enough. You get a little bit older and realize you don’t care anymore. All of those things you were worried about don’t matter. You become comfortable where you are. It’s freeing to let go of the feeling that you need to be a part of something.”
 
“It’s a bright spot,” Brian goes on. “With this being To The Ghosts, ‘Left My Keys’ is dedicated to the ghost of your high school memories with an element of fondness.”
 
Then, there’s “Knots.” Keys twinkle, drums roll, and lithe guitar resounds as Madeline leans into dreamy intonation, “When you told me to stay, even though it’s a lie, I told you that my hands are full.
 
“I like how it unfolds,” Brian says. “It’s actually got a similar chord structure to ‘Rave On, which was the best cut on our first record.”
 
An off-kilter groove underlines “Onions” as quirky words writhe over a steady beat, “I chop onions then I cry. Funny no one tells you why. We’ve been eating things that can hurt us for a long time.
 
“It’s the pinnacle of Madeline picking up the microphone and singing what’s on her mind,” grins Brian. “We’ve realized we don’t have to be serious all the time.”
 
The closer “Hung The Moon” hinges on a sparse beat and loose bassline. Its woozy sway evokes a David Lynchian fever dream as Madeline serenades, “Let it saturate, a love in bloom, I know it’s you, you hung the moon.Her vocals feedback into a siren’s wail, and the sound dissolves into silence.
 
“It has a Twin Peaks, roadhouse vibe,” notes Brian. “It’s a sweet nursery rhyme set to an ominous tone. It goes back to the concept of growing up. Life doesn’t stop when you check all of the boxes; it gets crazier. There’s always possibility, adversity, and fun up ahead.”
 
“Overall the music is more romantic,” Madeline states. “We started this at 20-years-old. It’s really scary to put your feelings out there to be judged at that age. After doing this for a long time, I’m less self-conscious putting my thoughts out there.”
 
In the end, Cults welcome everyone deeper into their world with To The Ghosts.
 
“I hope we create the moments my favorite bands created for me when I was in high school,” Madeline leaves off. “They changed my life and made me who I am. If we have any effect at all, maybe you’ll feel seen when you hear us.”

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August 15 Thu
Another Planet presents
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
18 and up