Cults is Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, the indie duo from New York. No Risk is a taste of next month’s fourth album, Host, the follow-up to 2017’s Offering.
It’s a preppy indie pop mover, assured and pleasant, a sign of a band who’ve honed their capabilities over many records. Follin’s hearty singing floats over the simple tinkling piano line. A soaring and airy sample is introduced midway, sounding almost prophetic, before the pounding piano returns and a contemplative violin plays us out.
The band has said that, “Antithetical to the title, the song is all about the benefits of taking risks, and how difficult that can be as a woman when being constantly told in both transparent and subliminal ways that you’re ‘second best’ or not worthy of the same voice. The song transforms the title from a place of complacency to a challenge to empower yourself.”
Follin sings the anxiety-inducing lyrics, “I can’t exhale to breathe in/ In a crowded room filled with emptiness” and says “I could walk in circles for miles/ Heartbeat accelerating/ And remember I’m always second best/ But I couldn’t wait for that weight on my chest”. Her words will resonate with anyone who’s ever been made to feel undeservedly inferior but that last line also contains a sense of hope against the pressure.
Sonically it’s the weakest of the three singles released from Host so far: where Spit You Out was hardened and confrontational and Trials was a luxurious and atmospheric dream pop effort, No Risk, so to speak, takes no risks itself. It’s a perfectly perfunctory indie pop song without offering anything of great note. Cults have spoken about how this is their most experimental and collaborative album yet, and there is much to look forward to with its release on September 18.