Album Review: Cultdreams – Things That Hurt

  • Peter Hough posted
  • Reviews


Things That Hurt - Big Scary Monsters Records

Cultdreams are Lucinda Livingstone (guitar and vocals) and Conor Dawson (drums). Things That Hurt is the second album from these former Kamikaze Girls, now rebranded and restyled after misgivings about the connotations of the original name. Self-styled ‘sad lo-fi punks’, the UK and now Belgium-based duo are certainly not necessarily the introspective shoegazers they might have you think they are. From the opening, wobbly intro to the Editors-esque Born An Underdog, there’s a delightful diversity to this ten-track offering. Musically adventurous and heavily laden with lashings of very 80s echo and chorus effects, this is a record that seems to have jumped out of its time. Or maybe it is timeless. This varied sonic landscape has a tremendous breadth: it’s a huge and melancholy canvas onto which the starkness and nakedness of the lyrics are painted in bold grey strokes.

This album could have been recorded in 1986. Or 1996. Its sad grandeur is reminiscent of The Chameleons, Dubh Chapter or an angry All About Eve. But these reference points are meaningless because this is also very much a record of the now and reflective of the times from which it was born, and of an artist struggling to find their place in a culture and political climate that is bewildering and unsettling.

This is a beautiful, towering piece of work on a grand scale that is also, paradoxically, very intimate. At times thundering with rage, at times achingly introspective. Not one for a happy-go-lucky evening in, sure, but if you like the idea of peeking into a secret diary and feeling a bit reflective, this is definitely for you. Standout track for me, paradoxically, is the driving and urgent reflection on grief and loss Flowers On Their Grave. Beautifully produced too by Bob Cooper, Things That Hurt is a terrific and affecting piece of work that I will be returning to again and again.

Things That Hurt is out now on Big Scary Monsters Records