The following of dreamy indie pop band Cults will be both infatuated with and shocked at their new, slightly proactive album, “Host.” The well-loved duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion bring their emphatic New York spunk to this sensually-charged new release, which dropped Sept. 18. This being the first album dropped since their 2017 project titled “Offering,” it’s a much-awaited divergence from their usually upbeat mode of expression. From the clutter of vines on the album cover to the tangled mixture of aesthetics present in each track, “Host” presents an amalgamation of indie bliss.
Right from the jump, the intro track titled “Trials” comes off as saucier than the happy-go-lucky sound Cults fans originally fell in love with. It paints the picture of Follin singing into a mic under a single spotlight, all eyes in awe of her vocal prowess. This alluring twist is accompanied by a heaping dose of violin, transitioning into the euphoric aesthetic so familiar to Cults. “8th Avenue” once again envelopes listeners in the warm glow of Follin’s lead vocals, shaking things up with the presence of a domineering horn section. Under the influence of these mysterious songs, listeners might even say the album has all the elements of an indie James Bond soundtrack. “Host” is all the flirtatious glitz and glam without the violence.
As one delves deeper into the album, the shift in genre and mood becomes outstandingly apparent. The disjointed instrumentals in “Spit You Out” teeter on the fine line between alternative rock and the duo’s comfort zone of dreamy indie pop. This song’s aggressive lyrics offer a wild contrast to the falsetto dreamland that is “A Low.” Cults takes it down a noticeable notch in “Working It Over,” which sports a downtrodden, melancholic beat unrivaled by the rest of the album. The lyrics plead for a moment soon to become the past, Follin’s fingertips apparently brushing against a past life.
After struggling against the unstoppable rip current of time, Follin’s lyrics regain their characteristic confidence in “Like I Do.” It also happens to be the perfect song to listen to while wearing any star-studded, leather-clad article of clothing. “Honest Love” continues the theme of transcending to attain a more boss version of yourself, sporting an idealistic beat listeners could skip to all the while. This track is representative of the Cults of the past with an occasional shock of distorted vocals. Metric fans from the age of 2012’s “Synthetica” would feel right at home amongst the heavy base and the powerful, yet airy voice of Follin. There’s no better song to precede the angelic masterpiece that is “Shoulders To My Feet.”
If that doesn’t seem like enough to excite a past listener, there’s so much more. Follin put her songwriting skills to the test on this album, contributing her knack for lyricism to their work for the first time. However, her lack of prior experience doesn’t show. The lyrics flow with unrelenting ease and prove to be extremely relatable during the whole 12 tracks. Her poetic voice in the album’s closing track, “Monolithic,” is profound and accepting, apparently grasping for the words to describe a long-lost companion. Follin says, “I felt you slipping / Pulled by the current, overcame / In a state of flux.” These words and the overall soundscape of this song provide a calm, blissful ending to the cinematic experience that is “Host.” Sway side to side and play yourself out.