Posted July 28, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Cults’ Forthcoming Album Represents a ‘Bold New Chapter’ for the Band

Cults photo by Maxwell Kamins)
Cults photo by Maxwell Kamins)

Cults — multi-instrumentalist/singer Madeline Follin and multi-instrumentalist Brian Oblivion — will release their fourth studio album Host, on Sept. 18 via Sinderlyn. 

In advance of the album’s release, the duo just shared the album’s woozy second single “Trials,” an orchestral pop song about power dynamics that sounds like something from a soundtrack to a David Lynch flick. 

“Trials” focuses on the power that addictions and harmful ideologies have to transform,” says the band in a statement. “The chorus walks a tightrope between a metaphor for gaslighting and a despairing worry about the person you still hold out hope for.” 

Jeff Strikers, who directed the song’s music video, says the band and he brainstormed ideas for the video while under lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Cults asked me back in April if I had any ideas for a music video we could make while quarantined across the country,” he says. “Via Zoom, we shot Madeline’s performance against a green tablecloth from a party store. I started experimenting with an old optical illusion called ‘Pepper’s Ghost,’ projecting Madeline’s image onto a sheet of glass to create a ghostly, hologram effect. They use this technique on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. It was pretty magical and the whole process was constant discovery and surprise — an ideal creative experience.”

Cults were deep into the process of recording Host when Follin let a secret slip. 

“In the past, I’d never brought my own music to the table because I was just too shy,” she says. 

“When Shane and I heard what Madeline had written, we couldn’t believe it,” says Oblivion. “The music just floored us.” 

Host was co-produced by Cults and Shane Stoneback, mixed by John Congleton and mastered by Heba Kadry. It features Loren Shane Humphrey, (Last Shadow Puppets, Florence and the Machine, Guards) on drums. Written more collaboratively than ever before and recorded primarily with live instruments for the first time, the collection marks the start of a “bold new chapter” for the band. As its title suggests, Host is an exploration of the “sinister dynamics” at play in a parasitic relationship.

Formed while Follin and Oblivion were still just students in college, Cults had a hit right out of the gates with “Go Outside,” a track would go on to rack up more than 40 million streams on Spotify, land on soundtracks everywhere from Broad City to Gossip Girl and help the band score a major label deal for its self-titled debut, released the following year on Columbia Records. The duo followed that debut up with 2013’s Static and returned four years later with Offering.

Over the years, the band has played festivals such as Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella and Austin City Limits.

Photo by: Maxwell Kamins


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].