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Music Review: Static

Cults
Columbia Records
3/5 stars

Cults's sophomore album, “Static,” can be accurately represented by listening to the two songs that serve as the album's bookends. The first song, ‘I Know,’ with its slow build and gentle instrumentation, immediately brings to mind images of a fading summer and a beautiful, brisk fall day. In contrast, ‘No Hope,’ the last song, alternates between upbeat and melancholy, using unique harmonies and a catchy melody to emphasize the emotional changes. The song's bridge brings to mind Lana Del Rey with gloomy lyrics such as “burn down the bridges / burn down the town / forget tomorrow.”

This contrast of dark and light is at the core of "Static." “There’s no hope for the wicked inside my soul,” sings Madeline Follin in ‘No Hope.’ On this album, Cults are pretending to be happy in order to hide the dark thoughts that flow through their heads. Whereas Cults's debut album had a relaxed vibe, even as it fluctuated between moods, this album is more frantic. The happiness on “Static” feels like a forced glee meant only to cover up an equally vengeful gloom.

Several songs are loving throwbacks to Blondie, particularly the danceable 'I Can Always Make You Mine.' On these tracks, the Cults that produced the summer hit 'Go Outside' come out in full force. 'High Road' is a moody, xx-esque alternative to the dance-pop side of Cults. Sounding very much like their xx contemporaries, Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin sing in brooding octaves over staccato instrumentation.

While the intended core concept of this album is strong, "Static" struggles to find its footing throughout. Several of the songs end up being rather repetitive. 'Always Forever' repeats the lyrics “you and me / always together” so many times, it begins to hurt. A series of weaker songs in the latter half of the album, the totality of which only clocks in at a short 35 minutes, diminishes the power of “Static” and hurts the overall cohesion of the tracks.

With a lack of a unifying theme or feel to this album, it is hard to determine whether Cults are really evolving at all. The number of conflicting ideas in this album make it unfortunately difficult to tell whether they will manage to carve out their own niche in the industry.

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