But the new album “Offering” is different. It sounds cheerful. Singer Madeline Follin says there’s a good reason for that change.
"Just getting a little R&R," she says. "It really picked us up. We’d gone straight from dropping out in the middle of a semester in college to hopping in a van and not getting out for five years."
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“Offering” comes fours years after the last Cults album. The band spent most of that time off the road. Guitarist Brian Oblivion says it was a chance to get back to a normal home life -- something they hadn't experienced in a long time.
"I spent a lot of time working on my Bolognese sauce," he says. "I tried to perfect a few pasta dishes. That was a passion project of mine."
Eventually they got out of the kitchen and back to music. And they worked at their own pace. Follin says that was a luxury they've never had before.
"When we were doing our first record, we had released three songs and then it was like, 'When’s the record coming out, when’s the record coming out?'” she says. "Even on the second record we had a schedule. On this, we had years to write."
They spent those years building a new studio where they let themselves get carried away experimenting with electronic sounds. They played different instruments -- Follin took over the drums while Oblivion was on the keys.
The studio sessions were easygoing, and music came out naturally. Sometimes even unintentionally. Follin says one day Oblivion left a "horrible" sound playing for hours before realizing it.
"And that turned into the bass synth patch we used on every song on the record," Oblivion says.
Those happy accidents led to a happier Cults record. “Offering” is bigger and brighter. Oblivion says it’s the sound they’ve been working towards since they first started making music.
"A lot of our writing before was very automatic: 'This is a heartbreak song because we love heartbreak songs,'” he says. "But we weren't necessarily processing it as coming from us. With this record we thought, 'What do you really wanna say about this?' It feels more personal."
Cults still sing about heartbreak. But there’s hopefulness too on “Offering” -- the band just needed time to find it.
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