Cultdreams, formerly Kamikaze Girls, announced their second album Things That Hurt back in March and have been working hard on their follow-up to 2017’s Seafoam. The finished product is tense and visceral, knotty and undulating. Their sound is big, with an emphasis on pulsing, delay-soaked guitar leads and towering drums. Like most rock duos they’ve got a lot of space to fill, and they do a damn good job of it. Although they’re self-proclaimed punks, musically they incorporate several elements of shoegaze throughout the album; Kevin Shields would be proud.
Things get off to a slow, atmospheric start with Born An Underdog, which builds steadily as the song progresses into an anthemic bridge which grabs you like a fist and shakes you around like a rag on a stick. As it reaches its conclusion you can almost smell the dry ice drifting over the crowd at their next gig. Alongside Born An Underdog, other album standouts include Don’t Let Them Tell You Otherwise and closer Toxins, which brings proceedings to a satisfyingly anarchic conclusion. The album isn’t all noise and aggression; quieter songs such as Statement serve to break up the pace, and makes the driving chorus of Repent, Regress that much more impactful.
At times the lyrics can be slightly undercooked, as on early track Not My Generation. Here, the vocals adopt a scorched earth policy reminiscent of Zack de la Rocha’s furious tirades against neo-liberalism, which comes across as rather overwrought. However, with simplicity comes earnest intent, and Cultdreams most definitely mean what they say. There’s a latent anger that perpetuates their music which lends it a cathartic quality, and although the band rarely deviate from their songwriting formula they demonstrate a good ear for melody in how they harmonise their vocal delivery.
Of all the musical talents who call Brighton home (of which there are many), Cultdreams have carved themselves a distinctive niche with their sound. This is very much an album to see live, and with any luck they’ll be scheduling some live dates for the autumn so you can do just that.