Host is the fifth album by New York band Cults. The band’s sound can be described as an homage to the wall-of-sound pop music of the late 50’s and early 60’s with an ominous twist. With this album in particular, they also added in a nice dose of psychedelia. The first impression was dreadful, but subsequent listens fared much better. It is not a great album by any means, but it is decent to say the least.
The main issue with this album is the lack of dynamics. Checking the dynamic range using the TT DR meter tool, this album received a score of 5/20. A consequence of the lack of dynamics is that it removed a lot of depth from the sound, making the music feel very compressed. Take the song “8th Avenue” for example. The chorus is supposed to have this big, grandiose sound, but it never achieves that due to the lack of dynamics. The song is consistently the same volume all the way through, so whatever pay off the chorus might have had is ruined. This issue is consistent throughout the entire album. Another consequence of the lack of dynamics is that it makes the songs much less distinct from each other, much less memorable. The album feels like one song being dragged out for 40 minutes.
There are a few things to like, in spite of this criticism. The distorted vocals from Madeline Follin lends itself well to the off-kilter sound the band is aiming for. Some of the songs were catchy enough, in particular the first song “Trials” and the last song “Monolithic”. While compression everything sounded, the songs themselves were fine. In a way, this is the worst kind of music. It is the kind of music that leaves one feeling blasé because it does not excite nor does it agitate. It is just sort of there.