Radar Band Of The Week – No 4: Cults

Cults – sculptors of the new lo-fi pop frontier
Boyfriend-girlfriend duo Cults are tucked away at the back of Veselka, a Ukrainian diner near their apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. A young, blonde waitress approaches the table after spotting the tape recorder before them.

“Who are you?” she asks. The couple sheepishly mention their band’s name. “Oh, I know you guys!” she enthuses. “You have an awesome song.”

She’s referring to the blogger-rhapsodised ‘Go Outside’, their Langley School-meets-Jackson 5 single, which, alongside Summer Camp and Twin Sister, is forging a wholesome-but-haunting new lo-fi pop territory, buoyed by ’60s melodies, bodged’n’bleary production sonics, and the liberal use of glockenspiels.

“Really?” asks guitarist/co-vocalist/songwriter Brian Oblivion (not a birth name, surprisingly, but nod to the Videodrome character). “You’re the first person to say that!”


It makes sense: Cults have barely been a band yet. The duo – the other half being singer/lyricist Madeline Follin – met about seven months ago in San Diego, when Brian was tour-managing her brother’s group, The Willowz. The couple started making music together after moving to NYC for film school, releasing a free, three-song EP on cults.bandcamp.com, but idly forgetting to even add their names.

The reception was so feverish that Blogland leviathan Gorilla Vs Bear formed a label just to put out their debut seven-inch. It sold out before they’d even pressed it up. Still, Cults are taking their time finding a permanent home for their music, despite numerous offers.

“We’d rather stick to our three good songs than rush to pad them out with lesser tracks,” says Brian. They’re adding a fourth to their repertoire with the upcoming single ‘Oh My God’, “a pop jam about people who try to impose restrictions on you,” explains Brian.

They’ve now expanded to a four-piece for their first ‘proper band gig’ supporting Radar-touted Sleigh Bells in a few weeks. Still, the couple aren’t letting the rock’n’roll dream run away with things, just yet. “The Morning Benders asked us to play too,” Madeline, says, curling her lip. “But we’re going to be at my uncle’s wedding that weekend.” 

Need To Know
* Brian and Madeline first met when he snuck her into a 21-plus venue in San Diego
* A certain – shall remain nameless – chart-topping UK pop star is trying to sign them to her new record label
* Brian and Madeline’s ‘song’ is ‘You Don’t Own Me’ by Leslie Gore