With their new album Offering, New York-based Cults have dazzled once again with a consistently full but newly bright sound. After the release of Cults and Static in 2011 and 2013, respectively, Cults has returned from hiatus and just from the album art you can see they’ve evolved. Met with positive reviews from critics and fans alike, Cults takes you on a synth-infused journey through love and life. Of the album as a whole, four standouts include “Offering,” “Recovery,” “Natural State,” and “Gilded Lily.”
The album opens with the title track “Offering,” an 80’s inspired romp that includes Madeline Follin, the duo’s lead vocalist, seemingly offering to save the listener, singing “Hanging on the end of a rope but I can make you an offering.” The lyrics aren’t overstated or over-explained, and that ambiguity is what makes the song, and the album as a whole, even better. “Recovery” is a slightly chiller but still synth-infused anthem of exactly what the title suggests. With lyrics like “You would swim before you learned to sink/And that’s not as easy as you think,” Follin details the process of accepting your pain in an understated but still relatable way.
“Natural State” boasts a buildup of verses that seem to explode into an expansive and cinematic chorus, the kind that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. If you read my last album review, you know I love a good closer and “Gilded Lily” far from disappointed. In fact, it may be my favorite song on the record. Opening with the line “Now it’s been long enough to talk about it,” Follin seemingly suggests that she has processed her feelings through the creation of this album. The atmospheric quality of the song and the repetition of the chorus “Haven’t I given enough, given enough?” creates a song that is simple in its structure but complex in its meaning, a true feat in songwriting.
With their third album, Cults has given us a brighter and more hopeful sound and stuck with their penchant for talking about the harder topics, the ones that can’t always be put into words. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have the ability to take these feelings and structure them into an 11 song journey, and that in itself is an offering. [Erin Pattie]
Recommended if you like: Best Coast, Sleigh Bells, Tennis
Listen to: “Offering”
For his highly anticipated debut solo album, Liam Gallagher definitely distinguishes himself from his brother Noel and the rest of their former band Oasis, the Manchester-based rock band that helped define the 90s/early 2000s. Following the band’s notorious breakup in 2009 and the long-lasting rivalry between him and his brother, Liam shows that he is still a rock star at age 45 and knows how to create a classic album on his own.
With its clean, sharp rhythms and digital manipulation, “As You Were” is more modern than it is retro but Gallagher’s signature voice and influence by The Beatles and 60s British pop/rock make the album easily reminiscent of Oasis. The album is filled with catchy choruses and crisp, booming piano and guitar melodies that are sure to be brought to life, even more, when performed life. The stadium-sized and energetic harmonica intro on the albums first track “Wall of Glass” immediately grabs your attention and draws you into the album. Yet some of the albums most memorable pieces come from the slower ballads, one of my favorites being “Paper Crown.” Another standout is “Chinatown” a reflective and dreamy song that contrasts well against some of the album’s rougher and more powerful tracks.
Known for his typically unapologetic and sometimes crude character, Liam Gallagher reveals his sentimental side through this album. For example, In the track “For What It’s Worth” Gallagher takes an introspective look at his life and his wrongdoings. He apologizes by singing “In my defense all my intentions were good” and that “For what it’s worth I’m sorry for the hurt/I’ll be the first to say I made my own mistakes.” Not only does this reveal Gallagher’s vulnerability, but it also showcases his maturity and emotional growth (which may open up a possibility for an Oasis reunion *fingers crossed*).
As an Oasis fan myself, I think it is hard to say that Gallagher’s album can fill the shoes of any Oasis record. However, there is no doubt that “As You Were” is an excellent solo album which highlights Gallagher’s individuality as an artist. More than anything, “As You Were” shows that Gallagher isn’t going away just yet. [Rachel LeFrock]
Recommended if you like: Oasis, The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys
Listen to: “Paper Crown”
True Panther Sounds/XL
Archy Marshall has always had a penchant for darkness in his music, under the King Krule name or any of his other pseudonyms. Whether it’s confessional lyrics about depression and isolation or literally the colors featured on album covers (grayscale until now), he has generally stuck to dark themes. “The OOZ” continues this trend, but is more streaked with color. It features markedly more colorful and textured production (and a brightly colored album cover).
The headspace shown by Marshall’s lyrics and musical ideas is hardly different from his previous album (under the King Krule name), “6 Feet Beneath the Moon.” That said, it does feel more developed. The instrumentation is more varied, and it feels consistently cinematic. The “Cadet” and “Bosom” tracks develop a story of alienation and romance. The interlude tracks are fully developed and interesting musical ideas. The album features a wide variety of influences, including jazz-rock, hip hop, and trip hop.
Marshall’s major success on this album is as a curator of sounds. The content is there emotionally and lyrically, but his arrangement of instrumentals and influences make the album his best yet. “The OOZ” sets a new standard for concept albums in 2017, marked by anxiety, honesty and eclectic tastes. It shows a young artist beginning to fully grasp his full potential in a long format piece. And it doesn’t hurt that “Dum Surfer” is one of the best songs of the year. [Patrick Larsen]
Recommended if you like: Archy Marshall, Ariel Pink, Mount Kimbie
Listen to: “Dum Surfer”
Run for Cover
On Makthaverskan’s aptly titled third record, “III,” they continue with their signature, masterful blend of dream pop, post-punk and goth rock. Hailing from Sweden, this five-piece has returned more focused and honed in than ever. Makthaverskan have never sounded so tight or cohesive. Each song is a cathartic, rejuvenating earworm, whether it be”Witness” with its biting barbarity or “In My Dreams” with its divine, lifting chorus.
Singer Maja Milner’s vocals soar and pierce right through to a listener’s heart and deliver an unmatched urgency. Even with slow-burners like the closing track “Days Turn Into Years,” it is impossible to shake the unwavering energy of “III.” The passion of Makthaverskan is purveyed so genuinely and effortlessly it feels endemic in the soundscape. You can dance to it, you can cry to it, and you can shout along to the anthemic choruses. Makthaverskan have crafted one of the most satisfying albums of the year, and you should do yourself a favor a check it out. [Thomas Coogan]
Recommended if you like: Priests, Alvvays, The Smiths
Listen to: “In My Dreams”
Be sure to check out our Best of October which features all of these artists and many more!