❉ Erik Stein and Jon Boux’s eleventh album is an electronic masterclass, writes Ange Chan.
“…this album is unadulterated Cult With No Name and highlights the magic that happens when Erik Stein and Jon Boux work together. It’s a highly accomplished, flawless series of arrangements that showcase the pair’s extraordinary song–writing and production skills.”
It’s been a couple of years since we last heard an album from Cult With No Name, in the form of their Nights in North Sentinel album, released in the midst of the pandemic and numerous lockdowns. Their current release X into I – the eleventh full-length album to date in their seventeen–year career – is an electronic masterclass with flawlessly crafted arrangements, crowned with passionate lyrics and delivered in a contemporary, stylish manner.
Unlike their previous album which featured a number of collaborations, this album is unadulterated Cult With No Name and highlights the magic that happens when Erik Stein and Jon Boux work together. It’s a highly accomplished, flawless series of arrangements that showcase the pair’s extraordinary song–writing and production skills.
Album opener All In The Mind instantly draws you in with its strong hook, smooth vocals, and funky multi-layered melodies. This song is accomplished in every way, not just sonically but also in its lyrical content, exploring themes of mental health and “dis-, mis- and this information”.
Already I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album and next cut, Scars, doesn’t disappoint the high expectations set by the lead-off track, coming in with a sucker punch and leaving you dazed by its delivery. As an opening gambit, this brace of songs successfully address serious subject matters without trivialising them.
With its cinematic quality and spirited contemporary feel, Not Afraid is reminiscent of ‘Kraftwerk meets Twin Peaks’ whilst delivering a funky edge, as it transports you into dreamy soundscapes. The lyrics explore what’s frightening and what isn’t and features the incredibly poignant killer line, ‘not afraid of drowning like you did’. Reigning Cats And Dogs (great pun!), is a musically anthemic, upbeat number with building chord progressions, coupled with lyrics that use the weather as an elemental allegory for the mental turbulence that can lead to paranoia and internal psychotic thoughts (an effective mental image), using the lyrics ‘what’s the weather?’ as a metaphor for ‘how are you feeling?’
In contrast, I’ll Spend 9 Lives With You opens to restrain of gently flowing strings and accompanying piano which continues throughout the track and has a Lou Reed quality to it courtesy of Erik’s distinct vocals. A simply gorgeous, albeit somewhat melancholy, track that I want to listen to again and again.
Back to the predominant use of synths with (P.S. and P.P.S. the Prospect of) PTSD and Jon Boux’s technical wizardry is clearly evident once more. Carriages at Midnight is a funky number with Latino flavours, whereas Snake Oils has elements of the Pet Shop Boys’ style until the vocals kick in with Cult With No Name’s signature trademark.
You Are What You Eat slows the beat down to more simplistic backing, vocals to the fore, with the lyrics ‘you are what you eat, but maybe not for long’ focusing on (as the title suggests) how your diet affects your mental health. The track then builds with strings and piano to a brief silence, before coming back in with gusto, emphasising the aforementioned lyric.
If You Were Here has a kind of urgency to it which feels like a metaphor for taking you on a journey or running away from something, or someone. Conversely, You’re On The Run (Not On The Move) transports you into an easy summer’s afternoon listening by the poolside in California and gently eases you back into the real world, leaving you feeling re-energised in body and mind.
Polished with the electronic sophistication that only Cult With No Name can deliver, with this current release the duo just get better and better.
❉ ‘X into I’ by Cult With No Name releases April 21, 2023 via Bandcamp in the following formats: Digital Album (Streaming + Download); Compact Disc (Signed on request) + Digital Album; Deluxe CD with fold out lyric poster, decoding lens and download codes for vocal AND instrumental versions + Digital Album. Physical copies ship out on or around April 21, 2023. Click here to pre-order.
❉ A lifelong lover of music and prominent contributor to Me and the Starman (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon), Ange Chan is a Freelance Writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry.
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