William Control – Sex Cult

Against all odds: William Control is back!

William Control - Sex Cult

Album facts

Release Date: April 14th, 2023
Label: Control Records
Tags: , ,
Discogs: Not yet available
Partially sounds like: Depeche Mode, Modern Talking, Rick Astley, Ashbury Heights, Priest
Final score: 4.1 stars
Matching album cliches: 3 / 7

It has been almost half a dec­ade since the release of 'Revelations', a full-length album by 'William Control' that con­sisted of four pre­vi­ously-released EPs. Nearly a year ago, the artist unveiled 'Sex Cult Volume 1' EP, after which there was a pro­longed peri­od of silence from the artist. Therefore, it is with great delight that I am now able to appraise the latest album, 'Sex Cult', which arrives without any inter­ven­ing EPs.

The album title 'Sex Cult' is likely to stir up con­tro­versy and spark debate in vari­ous circles. While songs that explore themes of sex, BDSM, and oth­er fet­ishes are not uncom­mon in our music scene, I believe that in coun­tries like the artist's home coun­try, the United States, such con­tent still can be asso­ci­ated with a cer­tain degree of risk. However, delving into this top­ic would be bey­ond the scope of this review and not entirely appropriate.

Despite any poten­tial con­tro­versy, I am pleased that 'William Control' has not aban­doned music, as was pre­vi­ously announced, and has instead returned with a truly out­stand­ing album that is sure to make an impact. 'Sex Cult' is an excep­tion­al record that show­cases the artist's skill and cre­ativ­ity, and I am excited to dis­cuss it in fur­ther detail.

How a cult album begins

The intro­duc­tion of the song fea­tures a divine vocal sample remin­is­cent of Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy The Silence' in the ini­tial seconds, yet it is appar­ent from the out­set that 'Hell' builds up more son­ic pres­sure. As the open­ing track of the album 'Sex Cult', 'Hell' is a power­ful and catchy num­ber, exclaim­ing the artist's return with fer­vor. I typ­ic­ally like to indic­ate which songs are suit­able for a single in my reviews. However, with this album, it is chal­len­ging to do so, as it would be easi­er to men­tion which two tracks are less suit­able for that purpose.

William Control (Press photo in new studio 2023)
William Control (Press photo in new stu­dio 2023)

The title track, 'Sex Cult', is slightly more chilling than the open­er. Despite its pro­voc­at­ive name, the con­tent is not as pro­voc­at­ive. While the song is about the world's most beau­ti­ful activ­ity, it is presen­ted in a pas­sion­ate con­text. The synth sound is expertly chosen and does not over­power the lyr­ics. The expli­cit love­mak­ing sounds at the con­clu­sion are appro­pri­ate and blen­ded in with a mod­er­ate volume level.

The album's single, 'Baptized', fol­lows as anoth­er standout track, accom­pan­ied by a fant­ast­ic music video released almost pre­cisely one year ago. Without a lengthy intro­duc­tion, William Control launches right into the mem­or­able and infec­tious melody, begin­ning the song by the tenth second. All the tracks on the 'Sex Cult' album are pleas­ingly con­cise and sharp, with each one suit­able for a single edit.

Following classic roots and paths

The song 'Brand' sounds much more mel­an­chol­ic at the begin­ning than its first song com­pan­ions. The song itself is not that mel­an­chol­ic, but very emo­tion­al, although with a very clas­sic rela­tion­ship image. At just 100bpm, the song makes its way into the ear with a lot of atten­tion to detail. The bal­ance between the verses and chor­us is expertly executed and cre­ates a sat­is­fy­ing listen­ing exper­i­ence. At a dur­a­tion of 03:21 minutes, the song is both cap­tiv­at­ing and repeat-worthy.

She gave her whole life up and she fol­lowed him
Out of the dark­ness out of the waste­land of sin
Lyrics from 'Brand' by William Control

The intro­duc­tion of 'Abuse' can already be con­sidered a sig­na­ture 'William Control' intro, with his char­ac­ter­ist­ic vocal style fea­tured in some of his pre­vi­ous works. Comparing it to his widely pop­u­lar hit 'The Monster' seems appro­pri­ate. The music video released in November 2020 with the announce­ment of "Here we begin a new adven­ture.…" had already sparked hopes for a comeback. Despite feel­ing like a long time has passed, the song itself is both light and har­mo­ni­ous, embody­ing the essence of excel­lent synth pop music. While not over­power­ing the listen­er with its sound, the song is suf­fi­ciently intric­ate in struc­ture to avoid becom­ing tedi­ous. William Control has mastered the art of this genre to perfection.

To me, the song 'Wife' falls under the cat­egory of tracks that are not meant to be released as singles and are not par­tic­u­larly note­worthy, earn­ing a mod­est 3‑star rating.

New sex cult members

The ini­tial six songs were released in the pre­cise sequence on the 2022 EP titled 'Sex Cult Volume 1'. The next six songs are new and com­plete the album 'Sex Cult'.

The song 'Allegations' is a clas­sic upbeat synth pop anthem with depth. I love the lyr­ic­al ref­er­ences: "I'm a gambling man, a beau­ti­ful loser, a stranger I have been", to the cult debut album 'Hate Culture' (2008). The song goes from the ear straight to the dance legs and brings that dark mel­an­chol­ic joy we know. The chor­us is super catchy and can be sung along after the second repe­ti­tion. An abso­lutely fant­ast­ic song!

The song 'Accusation' begins with an almost naïve melody and a super poppy beat. The ini­tial sung phrases instantly evoke a sense of nos­tal­gia for clas­sic tunes such as Rick Astley's 'Together Forever'. Despite its light and breezy sound, the track is any­thing but cheesy, a del­ic­ate bal­ance that only a few artists and groups can achieve. 'Pet Shop Boys' are anoth­er example of artists who can com­pose ser­i­ous songs and infuse them with catchy, poppy melodies.

A love like this will always last,
She knows I am a sin­ner and I have a past,
She is a Bad Bitch yeah I am a catch
Lyrics from 'Accusation' by William Control

'Controversy' takes a slightly dark­er turn in terms of tone com­pared to some of the oth­er tracks on the album. While the over­all vibe of the album may con­jure up nos­tal­gic feel­ings of an upbeat 80s sound, this par­tic­u­lar track offers a dif­fer­ent exper­i­ence. 'Controversy' focuses on an enter­tain­ing explor­a­tion of themes such as pas­sion, devo­tion, and love, in a straight­for­ward man­ner. The song's relat­able nature and catchy tune make it a per­fect addi­tion to any "Best of Love" synth pop playlist.

Much more than provocative

I would almost call the song 'Haunted' one of the more soci­ety-crit­ic­al songs on the album 'Sex Cult'. Yes, maybe even dysto­pi­an. Accordingly, the atmo­sphere and the vibe of the song is more oppress­ive to mel­an­chol­ic. Lyrically, the song has a lot of depth. In a world where many things can already be arti­fi­cially cre­ated (Think of robots by Boston Dynamics, ChatGPT by OpenAI and so on) and AI chats and apps for singles that pre­tend to have interest and feel­ings for you, the ques­tion arises (or not) wheth­er we will one day be able to rep­lic­ate the feel­ing of 'love'. The song 'Haunted' is def­in­itely thought-pro­vok­ing and them­at­ic­ally fits per­fectly into the album.

The track 'Tumblr' exudes an aura of buoy­ancy, in stark con­trast to the somber­ness of the pre­ced­ing song. It boasts a lively pop tune remin­is­cent of the 80s, which is sure to lift your spir­its. The song is one of the standout tracks on the album 'Sex Cult' and kicks off with a some­what cheesy, yet charm­ing nod to 'Modern Talking' in my opin­ion. William Control's vocals are impec­cable, res­on­at­ing crys­tal clear, as if they were tail­or-made for this genre of music. Though the com­pos­i­tion is not intric­ate, it is extremely pleas­ing and inspires an urge to dance.

You can smash my soul like a roman soldier
Split my rose in two
You can viol­ate my heart no composure
And oh I still love you oh forever
Lyrics from 'Tumblr' by William Control 

In the final track of the album, 'William Control' offers a cov­er of the time­less clas­sic 'My Way' ori­gin­ally by 'Frank Sinatra' (ori­gin­ally writ­ten as "Comme d'habitude" by 'Claude François'). Although the cov­er may not be to everyone's taste, it is skill­fully executed and com­ple­ments the artist's style. Within the con­text of the album, this rendi­tion adds a level of emo­tion­al depth and serves as a fit­ting conclusion.

A cult, sexy album!

The album 'Sex Cult' is a superb addi­tion to 'William Control's' dis­co­graphy, and it main­tains the high-qual­ity stand­ards set by the artist's pre­vi­ous releases such as 'Revelations' and 'The Neuromancer'. For me it's already a must-buy and for the fans it's cer­tainly without ques­tion. Overall, I find the album a bit catch­i­er than the pre­vi­ous ones, although that's hard to ima­gine as the pre­vi­ous album and single releases are the essence of catchy synth pop songs with a touch of darkness.

It is clear that 'William Control' has put a lot of effort into the pro­duc­tion of this album, as the songs are well-craf­ted and show­case the artist's ver­sat­il­ity and musi­cian­ship. The album offers a range of moods and themes, from catchy and upbeat tracks to more con­tem­plat­ive and thought-pro­vok­ing songs. 'Sex Cult' is an excep­tion­al album that stands out in the genre and is highly recommended.

Track by track rating for: William Control – Sex Cult

William Control - Sex Cult
William Control – Sex Cult
Sex Cult
My Way
(Nothing to report here)

Typical album cliché list for: William Control – Sex Cult