Album of the Day: Cults, “Offering”

The cover of Offering, Cults’ third album and their first in four years, says it all. After the opaque nocturnal allure of their earlier recordings, the New York City-based duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have come out of the dark, drenching their sharp pop songs in a warm, sumptuous glow that makes them more approachable and welcoming. While Offering draws on many of the same influences as its predecessors—namely, girl groups of the 1960s, like the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes, as well as chillwave artists like Toro y Moi and occasionally, the airy minimalism of the xx—here, they feel more lived-in. “I Took Your Picture,” for instance, contains echoes of Tame Impala’s kaleidoscopic psych rock, but delivers a human warmth and directness that the former lacks. Later, the thudding piano figures in “Recovery” blur the line between acoustic and electronic instrumentation to captivating effect.

While the song’s narratives aren’t necessarily overflowing with giddiness or optimism, there is a newfound confidence and self-awareness in Follin’s lyrics that melds seamlessly with the songs’ colorful arrangements. The album begins with an intention to live in the present moment—“Know I can’t see it all yet / But it’s so real to me”—and then echoes that sentiment throughout; “Our time is nothing now / It slips through our fingers,” Follin sings later on “I Took Your Picture.” Keeping the forces of time and doubt at bay is never an easy task, she seems to be saying, but it’s worth the battle. Sometimes all you can do is make an offering, and make it as exquisite as possible.

Max Savage Levenson

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