Cameron’s Corner, Cage the Elephant loses edge

Cameron Campbell

Cage the Elephant are one of the biggest bands in the alternative indie rock scene. They became popular after releasing their first album with hit songs such as “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “In One Ear”. After that, the band then started to gain more traction by avoiding their sophomore slump with their album, Thank You Happy Birthday, which gave way to a whole professional and intricate new rock sound for the band with songs like “Shake me Down” and “Sabertooth Tiger”. They then exploded with their hypnotic rock album Melophobia, which had their biggest hits “Cigarette Daydream” and “Come a Little Closer”.

On December 18, 2015, the band from Bowling Green, Kentucky, released their fourth studio album, Tell Me I’m Pretty. This was the album that cut down the energy filled, interesting, hard rocking band to something more mellow.

When the first Cage the Elephant album came out in 2008, it changed my view on how I perceived modern rock music. It showed me that there was a whole side to music that I had never heard before.

Thank You Happy Birthday blew my mind. It was and still is one of my favorite albums. On that album tour, the band played a show at the Vic Theater in Chicago and Matt Schultz, the lead singer, climbed onto of the PA system that was the height of the balcony. He then proceeded to jump off the speakers into the audience and start crowd surfing while still singing the song.

In 2013, when Melophobia, came out, the album was different but in a good way. It showed that the men in the band were getting older and wanted to do more intricate stuff rather than jump around and scream every night.

Then came the downfall of Tell Me I’m Pretty. I am not going to lie, this album has its moments but the vast majority of this album is boring and way too repetitive.

Let me start with why it is boring and repetitive. Dan Auerbach, the lead guitarist, singer and songwriter for The Black Keys produced the album. When I first heard this, I didn’t know whether to be excited or afraid. I have loved The Black Keys for a long time and still like the majority of their music. However, The Black Keys at this time just release a whole bunch of boring repetitive stuff and sold out from their hard rocking blues roots.

Auerbach definitely influenced Cage the Elephant in the studio. You can hear it in the guitar tone and the melodies of a lot of their songs. The first single off their album was “Mess Around”. The song had the guitar tone of The Black Keys’ album El Camino.

You could tell that the sound placement was from Auerbach. A band should have its own sound to identify with different people and to stand out, not be like all the rest, which is what happened here.

The second reason I think this album was, for the most part, a bust was because of Melophobia. That album heavily increased their popularity and radio play with the closing song “Cigarette Daydreams”. In turn for this album to get more hits, it sounds like they tried to make a lot of songs sound like it or have a similar feel to “Cigarette Daydreams”. They succeed, especially with their song “Trouble”.

All this being said, this album isn’t a total loss. There are a few great songs on Tell Me I’m Pretty. The song “Too Late to Say Goodbye” and “Cold Cold Cold” are incredible, and one can’t help but to sing along with the high melody on “Trouble” when it comes on the radio.

Schultz’s voice on the album is the best it has ever been. The smoothness of his voice can be translated to many more people. Within his voice you can still hear the crazed, Kentucky rock band that still lurks behind them.

Just because Cage the Elephants’ latest album seemed repetitive and boring doesn’t mean for a second that I have lost faith or love this band any less. This is one of the best bands in our generation and have been since 2008.

Cameron Campbell is a staff write for the Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]