Formed back in 2010 when multi-instrumentalists Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion were both in college, Cults saw major success on their first three records and are finally ready to release their fourth studio album Host, via Sinderlyn Records. The duo, who tours and performs with a live band, has begun a new journey on their latest album and has taken a more collaborative approach than ever before. Feeling too modest about her songwriting in the past, lead singer Follin contributed more to this album than any of the previous releases from the band. The result is indie pop gold and a perfect selection of songs for anyone’s nightly dream playlist.
The album begins with “Trials,” the mystic and melodic opening track that combines psychedelic guitar riffs with the trippy element of Follin’s storytelling. Immediately following is “8th Avenue,” one of the band’s most unique songs on the album that incorporates a funky bass line and a stunning horns section. Lyrically, the song takes listeners on a journey within themselves which continues throughout the majority of the album.
The record’s middle section sees more instrumental experimentation from Oblivion with interesting production techniques on songs like “A Purgatory” and “Like I Do.” From a vocal perspective the album peaks towards the end with “Honest Love.” It’s here where Madeline Follin pushes her voice during each chorus, to create a sensationally melodic contrast between the song’s more simplistic versus. Her perfect pitch throughout the song rides seamlessly along each drum beat, leaving listeners with a feeling of complete satisfaction. With the rest of the album showcasing Follin’s lullaby-like vocals, the power she delivers on “Honest Love” projects more emotion and energy compared to the lyrics themselves.
The band concludes the album with two larger-than-life tracks which include “Shoulders To My Feet,” and their most recent single “Monolithic.” With “Shoulders To My Feet,” bringing cinematic-like characteristics to the album, the song is an obvious choice for filmmakers and producers looking to add a hauntingly beautiful sonic element to the screen. Follin’s eerie vocals paired with an overly distorted guitar solo creates a large presence on the album, making it one of the band’s most memorable tracks yet.
Through the emotional highs and lows of Host, the band’s overarching goal of expressing “parasitic relationships” sees a successful conclusion on the album’s final track “Monolithic.” Notions of wanting what you can’t have while longing for someone who isn’t interested, are universal feelings most people can find a connection to. Despite the lyrics’ gloomy narrative, the soft psychedelic feel of the album’s conclusion leaves listeners feeling oddly upbeat and content.
Ultimately, Cults have given fans a storybook album filled with expressive instrumentation and experimental fantasy-pop music, perfect for a multitude of music lovers both old and new. While the album is mystifying at times, the sporadic nature of the new songs somehow create a dream like calmness throughout the record that leaves listeners feeling fresh and ready to address the inner workings of their own personal relationships. Host is a well written lesson worth listening to.