Cult Of Youth - Love Will Prevail
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Love Will Prevail is the third official album by Brooklyn-based neo-folk/indie industrial troupe Cult of Youth, the brainchild of songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sean Ragon. Following some long out of print home recordings, Ragon expanded the band from a solo entity into a full-on band, establishing a sound over the course of several albums that was firmly rooted in neo-folk icons like Death in June and Current 93, but fused with undercurrents of punk energy and even rousing Irish rock elements à la the Pogues. The ten songs here expand on Cult of Youth's traditionally neo-folk sound with the inclusion of a broader range of instrumentation than the more minimal gothy arrangements of earlier works. Starting with album opener "Man and Man's Ruin," their debts to Death in June's isolated acoustic guitar strums and detached, intense vocal presence are still very much in the forefront of the song, but by the midway point, an array of horns, strings, and bounding percussion begins filling the song, pushing it into different waters altogether. This dark, energetic sound spills over onto songs like "Golden Age" and "The Gateway," the latter of which sounds like Ian Curtis filling in for Siouxsie Sioux on a forgotten Kaleidoscope-era Banshees track. "Path of Total Freedom" is the most Pogues-esque track, with just a minute and ten seconds of bashing, drunken fury as rustic horn sections and jammy electric guitar leads churn up the song's bombast. Violinist Christiana Key's nervous strings lend a wiry feel to the album, taking the tension of "To Lay with the Wolves" in particular to Nick Cave levels of white-knuckled intensity. Cult of Youth marry a mishmash of stormy influences to great effect on Love Will Prevail. Between the detached ominousness of neo-folk pioneers and the bilious attack of Australian and British post-punk energy, a looming cloud of sophisticated sound covers the entire album, at times almost bordering on a very hectic type of chamber pop. While the Death in June/Current 93 comparisons are warranted and worn with pride, this album sees the band growing upward from those roots into an aggressive, heavily orchestrated look into the darker parts of the human condition.