Pitchfork (Website) - "True to its wide-screened scope, FINAL DAYS unfolds like a film told in flashback, with the eerie opening soundscape 'Todestrieb' presenting a desolate, post-apocalyptic scene..."
Personnel: Sean Ragon (vocals, guitar, trumpet, synthesizer); Christian Kount (electric guitar); Paige Flash (cello); Cory Flannigan (drums, percussion).
Recording information: Heaven Street (2013-2014).
Brooklyn band Cult of Youth began as the bedroom recording project of former Love as Laughter bassist Sean Ragon and grew from the Pogues-channeling lo-fi Celtic folk-punk of their 2008 debut, A Stick to Bind, a Seed to Grow, into a far darker and more refined beast by the time of 2012's standout album Love Will Prevail. That record found Ragon and his cast of various collaborators delivering austere neo-folk somewhere between the Celtic rave-ups of their beginnings and the grim acoustic dirges of Death in June. Final Days is yet another large step forward, though Cult of Youth tread more or less the same sonic territory they have been exploring for a while. This time around, however, Ragon is joined on every track by a fully realized lineup of the band, where on previous albums the membership was a little more mercurial. Guitarist Christian Kount adds sharp, post-Joy Division leads to pseudo-goth rockers like "God's Garden" and "Empty Faction," while drummer/percussionist Cory Flannigan plays tight post-industrial rhythms or trashy kitchen-sink percussion (the recording is fabled to include the use of human bones in the percussion tracks on some songs) on Birthday Party-esque tracks like "Sanctuary." While Death in June remain a massive landmark for Cult of Youth's influences, notably on drawn-out acoustic mediations like "Of Amber" and the dark and lovely closer "Roses," nods are also made to the junkyard attitude of the Gun Club, lesser-known Factory Records shadow lurkers like Section 25, and even unlikely early post-hardcore bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace. The inclusion of full-time cellist Paige Flash adds the touch of ghostly ambience that solidifies the most rocking tracks and emblemizes the more restrained ones. The main successes of Final Days come with its more complex arrangements as well as more nuanced and exacting performances. Whether raging in an antagonistic tirade or simmering in cavernous folk stillness, the band has never sounded more deliberate or driven. ~ Fred Thomas