The Cult

If you didn't catch the Cult's last "reunion" lap around the States, then you may have missed one of the most libido-crushing doses of rock 'n' roll reality since Axl Rose stuffed his '00s body into his '80s spandex. The image of Ian Astbury that's been etched into the general consciousness — that rebellious and dangerous-looking rocker in leather pants — was replaced by a clean-cut dude wearing a purple hoodie with the word CULT emblazoned in giant white letters on the front. Yes, it's been 20 years since Electric. For those of you who haven't been paying attention to the Cult through its multiple breakups, hiatuses, reunions, and lineup shifts (23 ex-members and counting!), you'd be forgiven for thinking that Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy actually give a shit that you expect them to look, act, and play exactly like they did way back when. They don't. For all of its starts, stops, and ridiculous detours, the Cult is an ever-forward-moving entity. This most recidivist of rock groups has once again created an album, Born Into This. It's simultaneously dumber and more mature, a bit rawer and more melodramatic than any of the band's previous work. Which can pretty much be said about... well, about all of its previous work. Few bands have been able to maintain as much of their core essence while seldom sounding the same from album to album as the Cult. Even though Astbury's fashion sense may not be what it once was, this band's weird dedication to making knuckle-dragging rock 'n' roll a unique and occasionally hip experience has never wavered.

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Jason Ferguson