Cults, Lexington, London
Wednesday 09 March 2011
There's been a huge buzz around New York duo Cults, and they're something of a mystery. Singer Madeline Follin and her guitar and keyboard-playing boyfriend, Brian Oblivion, set up their Myspace just a few months ago, with no songs, and no pictures. All we had were a couple of tunes on the website – and what infectious, lo-fi, 1960s girl-pop-inspired tunes they were.
Not that they are new to the industry: 21-year-old Follin was in her first band aged nine and played a duet with Dee Dee Ramone, because her mother (now the band's manager) used to be an art dealer to the rock stars.
Tonight, however, come the start of the set, all that hype felt premature. It didn't help that their opening song, "Abducted", was their weakest, while Follin struggled to hold a note. It wasn't until songs such as "The Curse" allowed her to belt it out that the singing vaguely matched the recordings.
Live, they are a surprising five-piece, and all but one of the male band sport the same long, dark hair as their female lead. Their glockenspiel-driven "Go Outside" and "Most Wanted" were the highlights, even if the live singing didn't quite recapture the charm of their recorded versions. It's a shame, because their songs themselves are beautifully crafted, with a wonderful knack for melody and texture brought about by clever bridges, that set them apart as one of the best of the lo-fi 1960s-inspired indie-pop bands of the moment, on a roster that includes Best Coast and Summer Camp.
But it was the brevity of the set that left fans feeling short-changed. After just 15 minutes, Brian Oblivion announced the final two songs by means of the explanation: "We took the 8am Eurostar this morning. Our guitar player puked."
Cults looked likely to be the new hot band to rival Summer Camp, whose boy-girl vocals and lo-fi indie they share. But they might need to sort out the sound issues first.
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