Creative Forces Are Unbarred In Cage The Elephant's 'Melaphobia'
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 23:10
When one thinks of where the best progressive alt-rock is coming from these days, the state of Kentucky is likely not first on the list. Cage the Elephant is the exception to the rule, putting out blistering new head-bobbing tracks on their new album, Melophobia. Drawing on the psychedelic music of the ’60s, Cage the Elephant went on a strange and exciting tangent on their latest record with an eclectic mix of sounds, employing all kinds of instruments that you rarely hear from a rock band and using sudden dramatic changes in their songs to keep the listener excited and interested.
Cage the Elephant is a major part of the growing movement of rock bands whose slogan has to be something to the effect of “bring back the blues!” Bands like The Black Keys, The Wild Feathers, and Cage the Elephant are all members, to some degree, of the new school classic-rock genre, using old bluesy guitar riffs that sound like they could be found in an Eric Clapton or Led Zeppelin song. Anyone out there wondering “why they never make music like they used to” should definitely check out Melophobia. It has enough Beatles, Byrds, and Led Zeppelin influence on it to leave everyone satisfied, and there is even some Warren Zevon, “Werewolves in London”-style howling to be found.
The distorted vocals and strange sounds coming from the instruments bring up memories of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, giving the album an incredibly authentic “summer of love” feel to it—and if you listen carefully you can actually hear the words “strawberry fields” mentioned on the song “Hypocrite.”
Every track has a different experimental feel to it. Some start off a little more relaxed, while others explode immediately with eye-opening drum intros. Eventually, though, almost every song speeds up to take the listener on a serious ride. In “Black Widow” the banging drums that kick it off immediately grab your attention.
Once the distorted guitar and strangely dark lyrics come into the picture there is no turning back—the band has you completely wrapped up in their wild and unpredictable sound.
The second to last song of the album, “Teeth,” is possibly the strangest of them all. It is a heavily distorted psychedelic message to the listener. In it the singer, Matthew Shultz, speaks to the audience, asking questions only to stop whatever they were going to answer with the command, “shut up and dance.” At the conclusion of the song is a vivid, Jim Morrison-like poem about the demands of the world. The entire song is dark, twisted, and unbelievably exciting. Then out of nowhere the poem ends and out comes the closing track of the album like the sun after an intense rainstorm. A soft acoustic guitar suddenly picks up and sets off the perfect answer to the songs that precede it. The song offers a sort of redemption, and the lyrics make it sound like whoever wrote these songs, especially “Teeth,” is going to be alright.
This album is absolutely not for everybody. Shultz’s voice is not always easy to get used to—it has a similar sound to Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. There are virtually no elements of pop to be found on Melophobia—it is a wild experimental ride with songs that are almost comical in how weird they can be. Really, this album is one giant call back to the ’60s-era psychedelic movement with some British invasion punk thrown in for good measure. No album is going to appeal to everybody, and while this one is certainly no exception, it is a great example of how really good music is still out there. Melophobia scores high marks for being different while still sounding like something you could hear on classic-rock radio.