Track Review: Cults – “Oh My God”

[Adult Swim; 2010]

Cults, who achieved viral success earlier this year with the effortlessly effervescent “Go Outside,” stick with you precisely because they’re always threatening to leave. Indeed, singer Madeline Follin ends that song with a breakup: “I think I want to live my life and you’re just in the way,” she says, and the closing chimes are so delicate—and the band, lacking even a Myspace page, so unknowable—that the line resounds with a possibility of truth. Who knows where they’ll be in a couple months?

The answer to that question remains unclear; Madeline and boyfriend/songwriter Brian Oblivion have yet to sign with a label. But on “Oh My God,” their latest track and the last in Adult Swim’s weekly Singles Project series, Cults remain firmly in the ethereal. They really explore their recording space here, using a bubbly synth line and distant drumbeat to give their music a previously-unheard texture and depth. When a high-pitched organ interrupts the aqueous introduction, however, the sound grows clearer and louder, mirroring the exasperation in Madeline’s assertion that she “can run away and leave you anytime.” One imagines the singer doing just that as an instrumental outro fades to silence. Madeline’s voice exudes confidence, but the breezy production (and, as on “Go Outside,” melodic bells) makes that confidence sound inviting and fun instead of intimidating—a bright summer day instead of a chilly winter’s eve.

The opening scene of Cults’ video interview with Adult Swim finds the band members tossing around beach balls and cracking each other up while rehearsing in their basement. It’s a relieving introduction to a group that’s seemed determined to avoid hasty attention, eschewing the typical online self-promotion and constant touring of the typical musical act still finding its legs. (They’re played just one live show, at New York’s Mercury Lounge back in May). No need to worry about standoffish pretentiousness from these two; their lyrics may be serious, but their attitudes are refreshingly lighthearted. Cults may have an uncertain future, but as evidenced on tracks like “Oh My God,” they’re having a lot of fun while they’re still here.