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CAGE THE ELEPHANT

★★★

WEATHERED MEETS WEIRD ON #3

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By James Cerche
8th October 2013
Cage The Elephant won my favour quickly over two nights in January 2012. A ferocious Big Day Out set followed by a storm-in-a-teacup headline show at the Northcote Social Club demonstrated the power and energy that the band were capable of. Their second album, 2011's 'Thank You Happy Birthday' is an excellent representation of this, brimming with aggression, swagger and humour across its twelve varied tracks. The latest release, however, starts off as somewhat of a comedown. Titled 'Melophobia' (meaning a fear of or aversion to music), it is quieter and less immediately engaging than its catchy predecessors. Drummer Jared Champion sites the title as the band's way of encapsulating the broad range of styles and personal tastes jostling for position in the studio, with the final result representing how they overcame the differences between them.
CAGE THE ELEPHANT - COME A LITTLE CLOSER (LIVE)

'Spiderhead' begins the record in typical Cage The Elephant fashion. It's an upbeat thrashing against whatever ails them, in this case girls and their mothers. 'Come A Little Closer' is a pretty standard sounding single and nothing boundary-pushing for the band. It follows their tested formula from the previous records but doesn't really pack the punch of the anything of their sophomore success. So far, the vitriol and swagger that made Cage The Elephant so appealing in the past has yet to appear until, thankfully, we are finally given a dose on the fourth track about fifteen minutes in. 'It's Just Forever' comes at the right time, if not slightly too late, and pricks up ears with an intriguing mix of stomping guitars and falsetto vocals coupled with Alison Mosshart (of The Kills and Dead Weather fame) lending her talent. This woman knows how to rip a guest spot, as previously evidenced on the title track of Placebo's 'Meds', and she does yet another killer job here. It's the most interesting track on the record so far, even before the honky piano outro takes over.

It is quieter and less immediately engaging than its catchy predecessors.

'Take It Or Leave It' keeps up with the paces and plays in with that vogue tropical/surf feel that has been dominating indie releases. It even sounds like it might actually be a Strokes song, but while the songwriting is very Casablancasian, the playing is never as nuanced as the NY five-piece that they may or may not be referencing. Either way, the record has managed to find its feet by the half way point. The horn section in later track 'Black Widow' is a new touch utilised well as we hear more of frontman Matt Shultz's bizarre new vocal approach over some reasonably catchy guitar work. 'Teeth' turns the volume up to eleven for the intro before settling into a jagged stabbing pattern under Schultz's howling rants. “Shut up and dance,” he drawls before a messy saxophone solo jazz fusion freakout that eventually deteriorates into obsessive beat poetry. Interesting stuff before the acoustic set closer, 'Cigarette Daydream'.

Cage The Elephant find the time to stretch their wings a few times on this record, and have managed to come up with some seriously weird tracks amidst the mundane. It's not the smoothest of listens, and the playing is never particularly tight, but there is a handful of new material here that will bolster their already formidable live show. Be sure to catch them on the live circuit to see what all the fuss is about as 'Melophobia' doesn't quite show you on its own.

FAST FACTS
BAND: Cage The Elephant
MEMBERS: Matt Schultz
Lincoln Parish
Brad Schultz
Daniel Tichenor
Jared Champion
FORMED: 2006
FROM: Kentucky
SOUND: Garage Rock
WEBSITE: Www.cagetheelephant.com
FACEBOOK: cagetheelephant
TWITTER: @cagetheelephant
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