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10 REVIEWS OF THE NEW CULTS ALBUM – 7: the really bad review (U.S.)

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by Wallace Wylie

Listening to Cults, I can only imagine that they have some great insider connections. Honestly, you don’t get this amount of hype after releasing one single on vinyl only, especially if there’s almost no information about you online, unless you’re friends with all the right people. Certainly not for releasing some standard, indie girl-group replicating stuff of the kind on display here. I understand why people approach music with the urge to get excited about it, but Christ almighty are we really going to shit ourselves over this slightly-above average major-label product? Yes, apparently we are. Track one ‘Abducted’ reminds me of ‘Everything Must Go’ by Manic Street Preachers, but I probably do the whole “it sounds like” thing too much so we won’t dwell on such things.

Time is ticking away and I’m not being convinced. Eventually we get to ‘Oh My God’ and I recognise some internal feeling that threatens to turn into enjoyment but next track ‘Never Saw The Point’ returns me to my previous state. I try to imagine myself grinning inanely to this music, bopping my head from side to side, sipping drinks with the beautiful people. Suddenly in my fantasy I accost the DJ, badger them into taking the Cults album off, and tell them to play the new Barbara Panther album instead. As the first track is about to begin the room is silent. All eyes are on me. The music begins and the beautiful people are impressed. Everyone gets loose and I’m carried round the room on everyone’s shoulders before the night finishes with everyone singing, “For he’s a jolly good fellow”. Phew, what a great night.

I’m a cynical curmudgeon. Pardon me for not rolling over on my back and allowing Cults to scratch my belly till it makes me kick my left leg in a weirdly uncontrollable but still pleasurable way. That’s not how I roll, my friend. The album is still playing and it’s still being very 60s girl group. It’s practically begging you to make it your go-to summer album. I can’t say I hate it like I hate Fleet Foxes, Death Cab For Cutie or some crap like that, but it’s not really doing much for me either. It sounds calculated. It sounds way too average to be getting all this press. Who the fuck are Cults friends with anyway, the Illuminati?

33 Responses to 10 REVIEWS OF THE NEW CULTS ALBUM – 7: the really bad review (U.S.)

  1. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    ha ha ha ha The Illuminati? ha ha ha ha ha Proof that je-ne-sais-quoi factor is beyond the ear of this beholder. That is what Cults have- that something intangible that you have missed. I find it interesting that you sound practically betrayed and offended by your own enjoyment of any of the music and the sense of relief you get from any track of theirs that allows you to continue ‘not getting’ them. You do express something important though here- if you quantify Cults as a sum of their parts, like many a music critic could, then you would not understand what the fuss was all about. Luckily not everyone will do this, some people will no doubt enjoy enjoying the music regardless of whether it fits in with their idea of what they should enjoy. I did enjoy your review for it’s humorous style though. And to mention hype and then to mention their lack of internet presence is an example of cognitive dissonance. You may be interested in this as an example of people who get somewhere without press and without the illuminati ha ha: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/apr/23/wu-lyf-manchester

  2. Julian May 28, 2011 at 3:05 am

    I agree with Wallace’s review. This sounds like pretty mediocre indiepop to me, with a few Spector-esque drumbeats (or whatever they are) in the background. About as invigorating and radical as Echobelly to this pair of ears.

  3. Princess Stomper May 28, 2011 at 3:31 am

    I do get what Wallace was getting at. I don’t think the “betrayal” is in liking it in spite of ourselves – more that we were expecting something really special and it just isn’t. Especially when people we trust are telling us we should love it. The thing is, it’s not even hateable. It’s just … OK.

    Phew! That would have saved me a wordcount, and I wouldn’t have got so many things wrong in it, either. I should always read Wallace’s reviews before writing my own. 😀

  4. hannah golightly May 28, 2011 at 4:20 am

    I don’t get that impression from what Wallace wrote- I think that neither of you like the music much. He uses the word ‘threatens’ and in the context of this review, it seems like he doesn’t want to like it. It also strikes me that it’s the hype that offends him more than the music- and yet when he tried to research them, he couldn’t find any such hype. I heard them on the radio and they really stand out amongst the other dull uninspired bland crap currently being broadcast. As far as I can tell, this is a band going far on the merits of their music. The word of mouth factor- call it hype if you feel like it- is down to people hearing it. People with different taste to the three of you.

  5. Wallace Wylie May 28, 2011 at 7:49 am

    When I mentioned no information I meant who they were, when they formed, that kind of stuff. There’s plenty of hype. There’s blogs worth of hype. All the right people seemed to have gotten to hear Cults. I can read about how amazing Cults are anytime I want, and I’ve been able to for months.

    You know, Princess Stomper and I have such differing opinions that when we both say something is bad, then it cancels all other opinions and becomes the consensus opinion. Just saying.

  6. hannah golightly May 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

    what? If you and Princess Stomper agree then it becomes the consensus opinion? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha It cancels out all other opinions? So even if everyone else is loving Cults but if you and Princess Stomper dun dun derrr agree(!) then that makes it the opinion of the majority? Call me when you wake from your delusion of grandeur and come back down to earth.

  7. Chad Parkhill May 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Is it really that improbable that Cults got the amount of “hype” they got simply because people liked them? Is it improbable that they got their contract simply because an A&R guy for Lily Allen’s sub-label thought they sounded good?

  8. hannah golightly May 30, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Too right Chad!

    @Wallace- you reference bloggers as creating the ‘hype’- but that seems to self-defeat your own argument since bloggers are free to speak their minds. They don’t have pages of advertisers to keep happy to keep publishing, so if the bloggers are ‘hyping’ them, then I think it backs up what me and Chad are saying. In fact, if you want ‘consensus opinion’ perhaps looking at the actual majority who are blogging their love for Cults would give you a more accurate reading of the situation.

  9. Wallace Wylie May 30, 2011 at 3:13 am

    People don’t conform because advertisers pressure them to. If you want to believe that in 2011 Cults got all this press just because people think they’re good then you can. It’s just amazing to me how quick people are to call bullshit on hype for acts they don’t like, but when they do like an act they suddenly bristle with anger at the suggestion that THEY have become susceptible to hype. Hype does not make Cults good or bad. It just gets them all this press. My comment about consensus opinion was a joke.

  10. hannah golightly May 30, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I get what you’re saying and I’m sure that there’s some truth in it- like your perspective on hype all depends if you like what’s being hyped. Thing is Wallace, in my experience on this particular occasion, I WAS THE ONE DOING THE SO CALLED HYPING. I didn’t hear anything about the band, just their song Go Outside- and then I wrote about them on here. And that must have contributed to the hype, so I am seeing it from a perspective that I have never experienced before. Then again, I usually think if something is popular it’s not for me… lucky I got to hear the music before I read anything. In fact I’ve hardly read anything about them besides what was on collapseboard… otherwise I may have been turned off before I even heard the music.

    That must be why I found that so funny then! Good one! Tell me another one!

  11. hannah golightly May 30, 2011 at 7:23 am

    *and whoever advertises in the magazines gets represented in their pages in articles. That’s a well known fact. So I don’t get what you meant there.

  12. hannah golightly May 30, 2011 at 7:26 am

    It’s not a matter of ‘believing’ for me, I am speaking from experience not theorising. If it was that way with me, then it can be that way with others. Don’t forget that people like to align themselves with success in life so anyone jumping on the bandwagon may be doing this now with Cults. It doesn’t mean the Illuminati are responsible.

    p.s. If you know alternative routes to success in music, please email me them and I’ll use it as a plan to make sure I get success even if people don’t like my music.

  13. Wallace Wylie May 30, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Conformity has existed since before advertising. I was making a general statement about conformity and how it doesn’t necessarily come from advertising pressure.

    There are lots of bands that I like, and I’m sure you like, who make great music who haven’t been given a tenth of the hype Cults have. Why all the hype for Cults? Just because they’re good? But why not just as much hype for everyone who is ‘good’?

  14. hannah golightly May 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

    That’s a good question and one I can answer: There hasn’t been anything this ‘good’ for years. In fact if you read my original piece on Cults for collapseboard then you’ll see where my own branch of the hype family tree comes from. Perhaps the other thing to consider is that Cults may have cross scene appeal. I’m not saying they do, but I am suggesting they might. I don’t like anything else that sounds like Cults (well not enough to buy their album and listen to them on purpose)… maybe that adds to my enthusiasm, that they are so different to everything else I love and listen to in music and yet they’ve got me and that’s fresh.

    Plus music journalists have hyped the hell out of the Vaccines. I mean Come. On. What have THEY got to offer? Boredom? When I was down at The Great Escape festival, everyone was Hyping Gang Gang Dance. I met one of them in the street loading up his gear and was feeling chatty (hence I found out who he was)… but I wasn’t interested in them because Warpaint were on at the same time. So you can expect a load of Gang Gang Dance hype up next. Be warned. The music is pretty good- structurally unique I believe. A bit challenging on first listen.

  15. Everett True May 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    why not just as much hype for everyone who is ‘good’?

    Oh, come off it Wallace. The very nature of hype requires inequality … otherwise it wouldn’t be hype.

  16. Wallace Wylie May 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I’m just saying I don’t think Cults are getting all this hype for being good. I’m not suggesting that anybody is lying about loving them. I actually wanted to like the album, but I couldn’t. Which isn’t to say I won’t ever. I plan on listening to it again in a week or so and seeing if it will grow on me.

  17. Everett True May 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Don’t listen to them again in a week. They’ll be crap by then. (Hannah, don’t take this comment at face value. I’m making a point about the transient nature of pop, and infatuation.)

  18. Wallace Wylie May 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Great, I’m ahead of the curve.

  19. sleevie nicks May 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    the other day i was hanging with my buddy hype williams while wearing hyper-color shirts watching the movie hype and we started to argue about that band cults, so then hype said let me call my buddy flav and he did, and flav told us “don’t believe the hype.” so in the end we didn’t.

  20. hannah golightly May 31, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Well right now I am in eros with Cults… time will tell if it becomes agape (infatuation or everlasting love in Greek)

    Sleevie- I think that comment should be reposted as the Eleventh Cults Review.

  21. hannah golightly May 31, 2011 at 7:10 am

    @Wallace- that’s the most hipster thing you’ve said all week.

  22. Wallace Wylie May 31, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Must be a slow week for me.

  23. Darragh May 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    @Wallace – you do like music, don’t you?

  24. Everett True May 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    @Wallace – you do like music, don’t you?

    Sorry Darragh. Another of the cardinal rules for contributing to Collapse Board is that under no circumstances whatsoever are writers allowed to like the music they write about. This isn’t bloody Pitchfork, you know! I like to think of it as another of CB’s Unique Selling Points.

    See also my responses to the comments on the No Anchor review.

  25. Wallace Wylie June 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

    @Darragh…

    It’s probably not a surprise to hear that I get asked the question “What DO you like?” on a pretty regular basis. The funny thing is I get asked it by people who don’t seem to actually like anything. By that I mean when I have on occasion been to someone’s house who has asked me that kind of question and the first thing I ALWAYS notice is that they only own about 25 CDs, and half of those are Greatest Hits’. Then I notice they don’t have many books either, or movies. I’m not trying to say that this is always the case, but I can guarantee you that I love and cherish more albums on a regular basis than the people who ask me those kind of questions have even heard, or would ever care to hear. There are hundreds of bands that I love, thousands of albums, thousands upon thousands of songs.

    I think without music I would be dead. I don’t mean I would have committed suicide or anything so melodramatic, I mean internally I would have died. I’ve noticed that something strange happens to many people in their late twenties / early thirties. Instead of actively engaging with music they start to retreat. They start demanding less from their art / entertainment. They start saying things like “When I go to the cinema I just want a popcorn movie that I don’t have to think about. I don’t want anything depressing”. They back away from challenging books. They stop buying music.They stop demanding anything from life other than the chance to switch off. I fear that state. I refuse to allow my brain to be switched off. Music drags me back to the world when I’m drifting off. Music infuriates me when it disappoints. It sends me into raptures when it connects.

    Do I like music? No. Like is a mild word. A word for an easily made commitment that you lose no sleep over breaking. I like ice-cream.

  26. sleevie nicks June 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

    @ darragh. i was hangin with my boy wallie the other day and we were talking about music. not music in general but that awful band “music” which is kinda like muse. long story short i don’t care for music or muse, the bands not the actual words or meanings of those words, not sure how wallie feels. however i went home posted the link to the wikipedia entry of music , again the meaning of music not the band music. and wallie liked it, so i’d say from that he likes music.

  27. Scott Creney June 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Hey Sleevie, quit sucking up. Everyone knows this website’s editor gets a nickel everytime someone watches the movie Hype.

  28. sleevie nicks June 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    1. he made a dime today then.
    2. i thought you were the editor.
    3. the proper way to address someone in the comments is with an @ symbol.

  29. sleevie nicks June 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    above it should read @ scott (before all the numbering).

  30. Darragh June 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Caught out, @Sleevie!

  31. polarbearisdying June 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    i only own about 7 ceedees. all greatest hits. is that better or worse than half of 25 ceedees being greatest hits?

  32. Scott Creney June 2, 2011 at 9:04 am

    @Sleevie. As far as I know, I’m only the (or more likely, ‘a’) Reviews Editor. At least that’s what I put on the resume I sent to Pitchfork last week. Anyway, I was going to call ET the Publisher, but I thought that didn’t make much sense since we’re on the internet. I think ‘Co-ordinator’ might be more accurrate, but that kind of makes it sound like he works at a retirement home.

    Which, in a sense, he might.

  33. ReeseMcHenry July 20, 2011 at 7:05 am

    I just heard Cults for the first time the other day. I really love 50/60s pop music so it’s right up my alley – I don’t like every song. In fact, more songs are skip-able than not, but how could anyone not like Abducted and You Know What I Mean? God, those songs are just perfect.

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