The Cult, bless their ridiculous hairstyles, couldn’t have found it easy to follow-up their unexpectedly successful album Love, particularly as it had included one of the key rock songs of the decade, “She Sells Sanctuary”. Although they apparently attempted to make a bigger and better version of their previous album, The Cult got bogged down and eventually shelved the idea when someone suggested heading into the studio with Rick Rubin. Rubin set about de-constructing The Cult’s sound, concentrating on Billy Duffy’s big dumb riffs and Ian Astbury’s powerful tribal hollering. The resulting album was Electric, The Cult’s most straightforward and basic album.
While Electric doesn’t boast an instant classic in the same sense that “She Sells Sanctuary” was, singles like “Wild Flower”, “Lil’ Devil” and “Love Removal Machine” are not to be underestimated as hugely entertaining chunks of big riffing hard rock action. What Electric lacks in style and subtlety, it makes up for in head-banging opportunities. Okay, so it features a questionable cover of “Born To Be Wild”, but Electric is a solid album by a band that started off as punks, became goths and then discovered a style of hard rock and heavy metal that was very much their own. While it owes a debt to Heavy Metal bands that had gone before, The Cult managed to avoid being derivative and there’s no obvious lifts from other acts.
Electric may be the simplest of the four Cult albums that cut a unique dash through 80s rock, lacking the psychedelia of Dreamtime and Love, or the stadium bombast of Sonic Temple, but in many ways it is the most potent, as it distills the charm of The Cult down to its absolute basics.