Jan 2022 03

Album CoverCult With No Name
Album: Nights in North Sentinel
Category: Synthpop / Electro-pop
Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2021-07-30


The London-based duo of Erik Stein and Jon Boux has proven to be most prolific as Nights in North Sentinel marks their tenth album under the moniker of Cult With No Name. As ever, the album showcases the pair’s unique approach to songwriting, somber yet sophisticated in its simplicity as the blend of trickling pianos with the requisite layers of synthesized pads and bass provide lush bedrock for lilting yet restrained vocals.

“All Those Things I Admire” saunters in to set a saccharine and romantic tone somewhat reminiscent of Roxy Music in its smooth, almost glitzy allure, with ex-Sneaker Pimps vocalist Kelli Ali adding nicely to Stein’s steady croon, although he lacks Bryan Ferry’s inherent expressiveness. Tracks like “Noa’s Arc” and “Fight or Flight” add twangy Eastern flourishes that might remind some of a less adventurous Null Device, the latter track also bearing some trace of a Depeche Mode influence, while “You’re All You Ever Needed,” “Home Again,” and “This Means War” take on a more upbeat, slightly danceable energy that never quite reaches a proper fever pitch thanks to the rather light treatment of the drumbeats. “After the Storm” is notable for its neo-noir vibe evoking a cabaret in some seedy Paris nightclub at 3:00am, the uplifting melody of the chorus contrasting with the morose verses, the shrill and distant violins of Tuxedomoon’s Blaine L. Reininger meshing with the twinkling synths for an almost Bowie-esque smoky ambience. As a more straightforward ballad, “Bulletproof” is notable especially for lyrics like “the people love a devil in disguise” and “life is just that little bit more fun when you’re bulletproof,” the mood and composition reminding this writer of Roger Waters’ “Paranoid Eyes,” while “(Some Things Are) Better in Groups” and the band’s namesake track prove poignant lyrical anthems for times of social upheaval, lines like “everybody’s fooled the same way” and “three is a crowd, and then four a mistake” reflecting the ills of groupthink mob mentality… a ray of hope appearing with “out of the dark, out of some kind of spark lights a flame,” as pizzicato synths and cold pads complement a slightly offbeat cadence.

Overall, Nights in North Sentinel is a pleasant enough listening experience that as Cult With No Name’s tenth album demonstrates the duo’s singular balladic style quite effectively. None of the tracks ever truly ascend to heights of atmospheric or emotive splendor, resulting in a rather lightweight album in which the austerity of its production marginally diminishes the strength of the songwriting. On the other hand, that does impress upon the listener its lyrical import, requiring multiple listens to absorb the message that Cult With No Name is conveying.
Track list:

  1. All Those Things I Admire
  2. Noa’s Arc
  3. The Automatic Day
  4. Fight or Flight
  5. You’re All You Ever Needed
  6. After the Storm
  7. (Some Things Are) Better in Groups
  8. Home Again
  9. Bulletproof
  10. This Means War
  11. Cult With No Name
  12. Ruins

Cult With No Name
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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