Cults Played a Mild Sunday Set at Lincoln Hall with Unchallenging New Songs

Cults frontwoman Madeline Follin joyfully said into the microphone “you guys are a rowdy crowd for a Sunday, huh?” An attentive crowd welcomed them to Lincoln Hall last week amid the release of the indie-pop band’s third full-length album, Offering, last month.

Set to a visual backdrop of screens that lit up with synchronized patterns, Cults played their artful pop songs, which did plenty to showcase Follin’s voice. But their new songs didn’t seem to resonate with the audience as much as their hits from their first two records.

Cults haven't escaped a trap that is often set after an “indie” band tastes initial success: after releasing their self-titled debut album off of Columbia Records in 2011 and receiving frequent airplay across Whole Foods and Gap stores across the nation, they’ve achieved a sound from the beginning but they haven’t pushed it during their near-eight-year span.

They perform well. Follin has a good voice. They have a handful of hits, like “Always Forever” and their initial hit “Go Outside.” But they lack another ingredient that would make them great. Their sound isn’t especially distinct or dynamic, they do not write complex songs, and they are not jawbreaking performers.

Although the tenor of their latest album reflects a quiet optimism and resound clarity, their set at Lincoln Hall was pleasant but unchallenging and impermanent, much like their latest record.

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Colin Smith

Colin Smith thinks that Chicago right now is the place to be for music. He works for Illinois Humanities, is a freelance writer, and plays psychedelic-pop songs with his band.