From its opening track, "Offering" envelopes you. Brian Oblivion's warm, blanketing bass synth and Madeline Follin's sweet '60s melodicism make Cults' new album airy and lush from beginning to end.
But the lyricism of "Offering" is an exercise in loss, a testament to the inevitable failure of communication and understanding -- despite one’s best efforts.
"That ties in with the mindset that we were in when we were writing it -- constantly being on tour and recording for six years, trying to re-establish our lives, reconnect with the world," Oblivion told me when I spoke to him and Follin over the phone earlier this month.
By now, the Follins have established themselves as somewhat of a royal family in contemporary music. Madeline Follin is the lead singer of Cults, her brother Richie Follin started the Willowz, Guards and, most recently, CRX, and their step-father Paul Kostabi has been in Youth Gone Mad, White Zombie, Psychotica and Walter Schreifels' (Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits) new band, Dead Heavens. Oh, and Madeline and Richie's mother Heidi? She's Cults' manager and publicist.
"It’s more connected than you even know," Oblivion said.
Although the Follins call New York City home now, Madeline went to San Diego High School and her bandmate Brian Oblivion attended Torrey Pines High School. Both met at the House of Blues San Diego right before they moved to New York for film school, according to a 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune article.
Still, it goes deeper. Soda Bar booker Cory Stier, who also plays in Mrs. Magician and Hideout, has drummed for Cults since the band's early years -- despite the fact that he lives 3,000 miles away from Follin, Oblivion and Hideout bandmate Gabe Rodriguez (who is also a part of Cults' touring band).
"I don’t remember the first time I met Cory. He used to play with my brother’s band the Willowz. I first saw him play in 2003 or 2004," Follin said.
"I’ve known him for 10 years," Oblivion added.
Cults have come a long way since those very early San Diego encounters, their formative film school years and Oblivion's days of using television static as a sort of inspirational night light.
"It was an old turn knob TV, and the static was just running for a year. We were worried about him," Follin said, laughing.
"I thought it was cool but everyone thought it was weird. Come to think of it, I didn’t pay my electricity bill for a year," Oblivion said.
With their self-titled debut, Cults established themselves as promising '60s pop revivalists. With "Offering," they've matured into their royal threads.
Cults headline the Irenic on Sunday, Nov. 5. Get tickets here.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford poet-neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. Whoops. He now fronts the Lulls, plays lead guitar in LA band Velvet and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Instagram and Twitter (@RArosenborg), add him on Facebook or contact him directly.