By Stephen Kane
The definition of “melophobia” is “the fear of or adversity to music,” and Cage the Elephant has prepared a prescription capable of relieving this condition. The Bowling Green, Ky., natives are back with a genuine, direct and impressively honest record immersed in blues, rock ‘n’ roll, classic alternative and jazz all smoothly incorporated within the 10 tracks. Cage the Elephant has seen sudden success, though well deserved, with their eponymous debut record released in 2009. The band has gained attention ever since with energetic live shows, consistent radio play and dedicated fans.
With very raw and driven guitars characteristic of the band, the album starts with a track entitled “Spiderhead” leading with an eruption of rhythmic drums and melodic verses given by lead singer Matthew Shultz. Vocally the song escalates to a new realm for Shultz, reaching incredible heights not seen on the previous two efforts from the band, with an engaging and enriching chorus.
The next track leads into the first single from the record, “Come A Little Closer.” Here we see a rather concealed and smooth Cage the Elephant, unlike their previous hit songs where the band is up front and center, loud and ever-present. The song has a strong and inviting chorus allowing complete visibility of the vigor Cage the Elephant truly possesses. “Time flies by/they all sing along,” sings Shultz during the bridge, escalating into an enormous closing of the track, complete with pure originality and unique song writing.
Third track on the album, “Telescope,” marks an important turning point for the band and Shultz as a songwriter. Natural, honest and genuine, the song is based around a character walking around in a barren home passing the time. Lead guitar provided by Lincoln Parish suits the song fantastically and with great precision.
The next song, “It’s Just Forever,” is a groovy gem with special musical cameo appearance by Alison Mosshart from The Dead Weather and The Kills. A reccurring theme within the album is a “classy” vibe within the rock ‘n’ roll ethos and atmosphere. The album touches upon an Arctic Monkeys post-British Invasion-esque charm which is phenomenally suited with Cage the Elephant.
The following song,“Take It Or Leave It,” starts with delay-effect guitar and driven percussion provided by Jared Champion. The verses float along the spectacular music accompaniment into an amazing hook chorus, “I think I must confess/I’m starting to unwind/I been trippin’ over you.”
The powerful next track entitled “Halo” is a great rhythmic song with a sincere refrain and great guitar work provided by Matthew’s brother Brad Shultz. Another dynamic of the band is their growth as a full force, over the years Cage the Elephant definitely has progressed as an entity.
The seventh song on the album is titled “Black Widow” and is a vicious display of the band’s more rock and animalistic side. Lead vocals provided by Shultz are almost in a falsetto with great melodic taste.
“Hypocrite” provides a strong and promising feature of the band’s catalogue. With incredible music, rhythm and lyrics, the song resembles the pure essence of Cage the Elephant. Soft and catchy at first, the song erupts into a huge chorus even with a Beatles reference striking the listener at home, “I don’t wanna do that again/I’ve been all over the place/I watched the strawberry fields/dry up and wither away.” There’s even a horn section within the song allotting a more sophisticated sound collage for the band’s palate.
As the title suggests, the track “Teeth” is a grinding mesh of guitars, vicious vocals and pounding bass provided by Daniel Tichenor. Towards the end of the song a spoken word poem by Shultz is accompanied by drums and guitars, a great inside look of the artistic view of the band.
The last song of the record, “Cigarette Daydreams,” is a stripped down acoustic ballad with great melody and a catchy chorus, very characteristic of Cage the Elephant. A great closing track for a more intimate and genuine record by the band, seen within the core of the band Cage the Elephant are a strong force of authentic music and melody. A farewell to yet another progression and milestone of one of America’s next great rock bands. The album serves as a transgression period for Cage the Elephant, allowing the band to grow in the public eye to their full potential.
Honest, direct and charmingly cool “Melophobia” is a great listen from start to finish and is a full piece of artwork within itself. With the buzz and attention Cage the Elephant has received over the past four years, it is now clear to see the band’s unique talent up close and personal and with well-deserved praise. Any listener who experiences “Melophobia” will understand and realize the true power of music and all the wonder there is to discover.