Rating: 5 out of 5
We are all very much aware that 2020 so far has been nine months packed with the unexpected, and as Cults releases their fifth album titled Host, their contribution to the year’s cultural landscape has proven to be no exception.
New York based indie duo Cults have been in the game for a decade now, and have honed their M.O down to a fine art. Up until their latest release, they have sat comfortably on what works for them. That is, ethereal and slick works of art composed of lyrics forged by the writer of the pair named, rather thrillingly, Brian Oblivion, and sung by the wonderfully talented Madeline Fillin.
However with Host the pair has handled things slightly differently. The seed of said curveball was planted halfway through the making of the album, when Madeline revealed to her band mate she had been working on a secret catalogue of songs on her own.
This new angle is subtle but is all it took to revitalise that familiar model giving them the boost so often needed by the fifth album. Instead of getting left in the dust, which is a danger when competing with the up and coming talent of the day, Madeline bestowed upon the two the verve to take another lap around the track. We are still blessed with that dreamy, and crystal clear sound but now there is an extra rawness as Madeline is singing straight from her own mind and expressing emotion she knows first hand.
Escapism appears to be the intention with Host as it takes us on a journey. At one moment we are soaring through celestial soundscapes into crescendos of cymbals and brass – the live instrumentation is another new addition to the band’s repertoire. Then, seconds later, the rhythm spins out unnervingly, finally coming to rest in the calm hazy waters of ethereal ballads.
The ’60s inspired mellowness is spiked with sinister tones. The languid lows, command attention without power, while the effortless brooding and the ritzy bravado of the orchestra could be the soundtrack to a Bond film.
The twists and turns in this record are mesmerising. It transports the listener to another world and what better time to have such a record than when we are all stuck at home. If you are looking for an escape, let Host whisk you away.
Image: Ian Young via nounpusher.com