Cults: Host (Sinderlyn) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, December 5th, 2020  




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I always cringe when a band of my liking announces that their new album is a radical re-imagining of their sound and it’s dynamic. So when I read the press release about Cults’ fourth full-length LP Host, I cringed.    

Thankfully my trepidations were quickly replaced with optimism as the opening track “Trials” ambushed me with a symphonic vibe, complete with strings, spry synths, and a dreamy chorus. Perhaps this bold new chapter for the duo of Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin is not cringe-worthy after all.    

Cults’ last album, 2017’s Offering, was a winning combination of retro synth rock and hazy dream pop that did a good job of distilling their influences (The Motels, Hooverphonic, Masonic, Beach House) into original compositions with clever pop sensibilities. But it seemed like a refined peak that continued a trend following their first two releases. So it’s not surprising they decided to spice things up a bit for Host. But what is surprising is the way they went about it.     

Crippled with a dislike for what they had in the vault so far and hit with a dearth of new ideas, the duo seemed less at a crossroads and more at a dead end. That is until Follin presented some songs which she had been writing on the side, and bazinga! It was the perfect catalyst the band and producer Shane Stoneback needed to get things back on track.    

The result is a more enthusiastic and adventurous sound. Energetic guitars and swirling background effects have replaced a lot of the washed-out synth vibe, and the overall feel is infused with more emotion while still retaining remnants of an electro-pop sheen. In addition to “Trials,” songs such as “8th Avenue,” “Spit You Out,” and “A Low” explore all angles of this new dynamic and vibrant sound with equally striking vocals.    

Although Host is immediately captivating, thanks to the animated arrangements, it must be listened to multiple times to absorb and appreciate its diverse nature and expanded scope. Cults have proven they are no one trick pony and are willing to push the envelope outside of their comfort zone to create a layered and attractive sound that should play well to large audiences. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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