Music review: Cults deliver a classic breakup album with ‘Static’

Never underestimate an artist’s ability to mine the failures of their own personal lives for creative inspiration.

Case in point – New York indie pop duo Cults. The group, consisting of singer/lyricist Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion on guitar, revealed they had ended their real-life romantic relationship after the release of their 2011 debut album.

Cults’ sophomore album, Static, is an earnest documentation of the deterioration of that relationship.

Given the fact that countless musicians have attempted to capture sonically the emotional struggle one endures while weathering the storm of a particularly nasty breakup – Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Adele’s 21, and Sea Change by Beck all come to mind – one cannot claim Static is, thematically, entirely original.

However, despite the overabundance of breakup songs in American pop music, the universal themes of a broken heart – the loss and betrayal of love – are so powerfully relatable, it’s hard to knock Cults for tackling the subject – especially considering their familiarity with it.

The album opens with the hazy sounds of dream pop as Follin’s child-like voice, imbued with melancholy, sings to herself that she “knows,” as the sad twang of an electric guitar cuts through the foggy cloud of reverb which is omnipresent throughout all 11 tracks. Whether she “knows” her relationship is dead, or “knows” her partner has been less than faithful, “I Know” makes for a gorgeously honest start to the album.

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