THE DEAL: Take two NYU grads: Madeline Follin (vocals) and Brian O'Blivion (guitars and goofy name). Give them the keys to '60s girl group records and the reverb switch. Commence a pop record that's a mix of The Supremes and Belle & Sebastian. That's Cults.
THE GOOD: I will admit, I didn't like this stuff at first. Heavy echo on the vocals and esoteric instruments — it's a pretty conventional soundtrack to buying skinny jeans and Big Lebowski t-shirts. Once you start listening to and unraveling each overdubbed layer, it does get better. Actually, for simple pop songs, there's something deeper here. The keyboard instruments sound authentic on top of dense effects and Follin's "ay-ye-yahs." A piano on "Most Wanted" and "Bumper" sounds like a ringing toy, while the crime movie tone on "Bad Things" makes an anxious track. This album isn't for xylophone-phobes — these bells are on a majority of tracks.
THE BAD: Follin's voice is a little monotonous on the songs, and the sources they're culling have lots of range. The final track, "Rave On," is definitely a mash up, or more of a pile up. I think there are some cool sounds going on this debut, but a lot of it sounds as strained as Follin's vocals.
THE VERDICT: It's complex for pop music, but that's not always a good thing. For all of the hype surrounding this album on indie rock stations, it just doesn't seem like "the new big thing." The influences are still the ones making "pop symphonies" the best.