Published May 29, 2011On paper, San Diego, CA-cum-Brooklyn, NY's Cults seem like your customary, modern day buzz band. Their girl group-indebted throwback pop was accompanied by faceless, ambiguous photos and championed by the taste making Gorilla vs. Bear blog. And let's not forget about that Google-unfriendly name. But unlike so many likeminded acts, Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin have kept the momentum going purely on the strength of a few songs and constant touring. Signed to Lily Allen's In the Name Of imprint, the duo's self-titled debut album lives up to all of the preliminary hype. Self-produced, with help from Shane Stoneback (Fucked Up, Sleigh Bells), Cults doesn't reveal much that singles "Go Outside" and "Oh My God" didn't. Dismayed lyrics are coated in sugary melodies then sung by Follin's ringing, angelic cry overtop of production that's convincingly warm and vintage sounding, as if it came fresh from Berry Gordon's factory ― the first bars of each verse in "You Know What I Mean" are deliciously lifted from the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go." By tossing in bustling percussive thumps, a sea of reverb and samples of dead cult leader Jim Jones, Cults have aggrandized the '60s pop formula, making the yardstick for throwbacks that much higher to beat.
You've quoted cult leaders like Jim Jones and Charles Manson in your music. How has that influenced your songs?
Oblivion: We had been watching a lot of documentaries while we were making the album, because we both had an obsession with the idea of religious groups. So, some of the more striking quotes rang true to us when we began writing songs and we incorporated them. A lot of the voices in the music express extreme views of being afraid of the world, not giving in to control and all those things we believe in.
Did you have to pay royalties for the samples?
Oblivion: It was a pain in the ass!
Follin: The Jim Jones quote from "Go Outside" was used in a court case, so it was public domain.
Oblivion: Actually, the guy who runs the Jonestown archive is super-cool and really supportive of our band. He helped us get a lot of stuff cleared for free.
Tell me about this mixtape you've got coming out.
Oblivion: We're working on it. I think we're going to take the songs on the record and flip them into more hip-hop-like beats on our end then have Madeline re-sing some hooks and choruses. We've also got some cool up-and-coming rappers signed on to add to it. (In the Name Of/Columbia)