Album Reviews

The Cult – Under the Midnight Sun – Album Review

The Cult – Under the Midnight Sun – Album Review
by Killian Laher

It’s a little surprising that The Cult are still a going concern, I had always thought they would burn brightly and disappear.  Yet here they are with their first album in 6 years and their 11th overall.  Since their 80s heyday, they have released a number of albums with mixed results.  It’s tempting to divide them into ‘Ian’ (Astbury) albums (Ceremony, self-titled, Born Into This), generally a bit poppier with occasional dance beats thrown in and ‘Billy’ (Duffy) albums (Beyond Good And Evil, Choice of Weapon), which are more metal-tinged hard rock.  On first listen, this appears to be more of an ‘Ian’ album, as there are few really crunchy guitars.

The album actually has quite a smooth sound, the opener Mirror harks back to their pre-Electric days: as Astbury croons “love, love, love, forget what you know” on a strong opener.  A Cut Inside has sharper guitars, probably the most ‘riffy’ song here and one which is sure to work well live.  The upbeat Vendetta X is almost electro-pop.  While not particularly ‘Cult’ sounding, it’s hard not to nod along to.  The agreeable, mid-paced Give Me Mercy is a little on the slick side with lyrics about “your savage heart”.

The second half of this somewhat short album (eight songs) is a bit of a departure.  They always liked a good ballad, and for Outer Heaven they wheel out the faux strings and acoustic guitars.  This track is not bad once it gets going, feeling a bit like a centrepiece as Duffy unleashes his electric guitars midway through.  On Knife Through Butterfly Heart, they really push the power ballad vibe with Astbury crooning over orchestral-sounding keyboards, rounding it off with a fake fade-out.  Impermanence is smooth and forgettable, almost sounding like Astbury fronting a different band.  Keyboards are again to the fore for the title track, a full-on ballad with dramatic keyboard flourishes.  It all makes for ballad heavy second half of the album

This album is very much a departure for the Cult.  It has virtually none of the charming over the top silliness that they have made their own.  There are no real standout tracks, the guitars are not particularly prominent and if anything the album is not very distinctively The Cult.  If Beavis and Butthead were asked they would say: “hehe… these guys don’t ROCK!”.  However, that’s not to say the album isn’t enjoyable, it just doesn’t grab you by the collar and howl “yayow” at you.  Perhaps this is age-appropriate music for sixty-something-year-old Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy?

A Cut Inside

 

Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music

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