Cults, XOYO, London


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The Independent Culture

Cults are a boy-girl couple, who studied film in New York and started making catching indie-pop on the side. Yes, they are as young, and cool, as one might expect. Darlings of the blogosphere, their career launched almost by accident after they posted a few tracks that showcased just what a good match Sixties girl-group pop layered with reverb and synth could be. They were snapped up by Lily Allen's label – she's in the audience tonight – but while their first album didn't disappoint, this show did.

That album, a briskly accessible 11 tracks that each barely stray over the three-minute mark, is also entitled Cults. Alas, that name seems ironic tonight: it is rare to encounter such an un-bothered audience – they barely clap an encore, for a set all of 45 minutes long. This doesn't go unnoticed. The male half of Cults, guitarist Brian Oblivion, deadpans: "Let's all have as much fun as we can." Ouch.

While he and frontwoman Madeline Follin, plus backing band, don't exactly work up a sweat trying to endear themselves to us, I have some sympathy. The gig is marred by truly terrible sound: not only murky, but blighted by full-on feedback on almost every track. The vocals are hard to make out – although this is also partly to do with Follin's voice, sugar-sweet and charming on record, straining on some higher notes.

Despite this, Cults still have some irresistible tracks: "Never Heal Myself" demands a girlish hip-sway, with its distinctive glockenspiel melody (no, really, they do a very fine line in tinkling, plinking, catchy glock). "Never Saw the Point" is also brilliantly hooked, with a soulful stomp, mirrored in Follin's pony-ish stamping, eyes closed, mouth plummily pouted, long hair all a-swish. And their biggest hit, "Go Outside" – a breezy yearn for a breath of fresh air – is a stand-out.

The final track, "Oh My God", should have been too: it's a bouncy, bubbly thing of beauty, but it fails to connect fully, even when Oblivion picks up a projector – which had been showing a black and white film, obviously – and shines it on the crowd. Sadly, however, Cults fail to shine much light on their own music.