But none of these are to be found on Static. It’s a shift from upbeat, happy-sounding dream-pop to some murky cocktail of shoegaze and rock-and-roll. Where are my cute xylophones and happy grooves, eh? It’s as if Cults forgot how to make pop music. There were one or two moments where things started to look up, especially in the first 20 seconds of “High Road.” Bass-lines move effortlessly, the faded electronics cascade in oh-so well. Then lead singer Madeline Follin begins to sing, and things go straight downhill. Compared to Cults’ debut, Follin’s vocals in Static just sound awkward. The album lowers her usually high-toned voice to an untidy alto range that muddles up the group’s usual sound.
But here’s the thing: Cults’ didn’t have that diverse of a sound to begin with; Cults was one aesthetic that was iterated into 12 great songs, but by the time Static came along, they had run out of rope. And so, aiming to be more than just that one hipster dream-pop band, they took a risk and shook it up. That risk did not pay off.