In an age when most of us will abandon watching a 30-second YouTube clip if it takes too long to upload, this NYC buzz band (is there any other kind these days? Moving on...) is perfectly built for our times. Brandishing a well-pruned clutch of short, immediate, and brisk pop songs, they leap forth to quicken your pulse with arrow after heart-winning arrow. A few seconds of its sunshine-channeling exuberance is literally all it takes.
It makes sense then that their most obvious source of inspiration—'60s girl groups—was forged in an era of singles that lived or died on the success of their first few spins on radio. Get to the hook or get the hook. Given that recently everyone from Dum Dum Girls to Best Coast have been going to this same well and with resounding success suggests some similarities in the flighty relationship between artist and audience both then and now (minus that whole "paying for music" thing—is that a bad thing to talk about on a record store's website? Continuing to move on...).
Which then begs the question: How exactly does Cults' take on this trend differ? Far less prevalent guitars, for one. And as much as this is Madeline Follin's show vocally (she's full-on and quite irresistible throughout), bandmate Brian Oblivion makes a pleasing male foil to her at key points such as on opener "Abducted" and "Bumper". But perhaps their best trait (especially in comparison to those aforementioned acts) is that they wear their modernity on their sleeve more proudly than some of their contemporaries. The tracks on this debut lean heavily on various samples and drum machine concoctions—it's an approach that adds muscle and a more current aesthetic to save things from just being a trip down a memory lane that neither Follin nor Oblivion have an actual living memory of. So, in short, if Dum Dum Girls are too retro, and Sleigh Bells are too "I liked the paint fine on the walls, thank you", then Cults = your new favourite band.
As it turns out, they = a lot of people's new favourite band. And why not? Cults is certainly one very agreeable debut. It's even really well done and suggests a lot of potential in the pair. But it should be said: for now, there's not an awful lot to chew on here past one's first impressions. And as a side note, I can't help but wonder how the Raveonettes—a band who was a good decade ahead of the curve on this trend—feel about all of this attention being paid to Cults and the like. Oh well—as the final track on Cults says: "Rave On".