Following origins in post-punk and gothic rock, The Cult have quietly grown into bona fide statesmen of British rock. Now, with a quality 10th studio album in their hands, they deserve this respected status all the more.
Not that they’ve always been appreciated accordingly. Multiple breakups, reunions and a list of ex-drummers to rival Spinal Tap (and a fair few other exes, come to think of it) haven’t helped. Nor has Ian Astbury’s slightly bizarre progression from West Yorkshire punk dude to Native American guru – via stints with Slash (Astbury was a guest vocalist on his solo debut) and Debbie Harry (backing vocalist on Def, Dumb And Blonde). But none of that should deter you, particularly when Hidden City is as solid as it is – beautifully produced (by mega producer Bob Rock) and packed with confident performances.
It’s not the best thing they’ve ever done, but it’s one of the strongest in recent years, artistically blending gothy post-punk shades, hard rock riffs and assured melodies. Dark Energy is a rousing opener, cool and decadent but groovy with it. Astbury is a longtime David Bowie fan, and hints of the late icon can be heard in his vocal delivery.
It translates elegantly across a strong, rich yet not overworked spread of tunes, with consistently first-rate guitar work from co-founder Billy Duffy. Hinterland is all riffy Led Zeppelin-esque mysticism, Dance The Night offers heady fun, and the likes of No Love Lost are just properly more-ish rock songs – percussive and interesting, but catchy.
An alluring rock album that intrigues and entertains. Existing fans should love it. Who knows how many new Cult followers it’ll translate into, but it’s thoroughly worthy addition to their catalogue – and to rock circa 2016 generally.