October , 2013
Review by Lisa Sullivan
Cage The Elephant
Label: RCA Records
The new record by Cage The Elephant, Melophobia is finally here with much anticipation. "Spiderhead" opens this release and sets the listener up for a wild ride. An odd title for a song, it drops hints at an equally peculiar blend of musical styles to come. Psychedelic and catchy, loaded with changes ups and eerie lyrics, it draws you in and leaves you wondering what will come next. There are parts of this CD that sound like they were dropped straight out of the 60s, groovy surf-rock tunes. Others are reminiscent of 80s new wave and 90s grunge. There's even some industrial thrown in. While it is said that there are no truly original musical styles any more, Cage the Elephant truly defies categorization by blending the best of multiple musical eras and making it their own.
"Telescope" is a true standout. Mellow - almost sad - and backed with thought-provoking lyrics, it simultaneously draws on influences like the Beatles and 80s new wave. "It's Just Forever" could be the theme song to a 60s James Bond movie set on a California beach. The backing vocals give this tune an almost B-52s feel. "Black Widow" uses a lot of the musical elements that make bands like Black Keys so popular. "Hypocrite" showcases the band's use of horns, and almost (maybe intentionally) pays homage to the Beatles, not only musically, but with lyrics that reference "Strawberry Fields".
"Teeth" smacks you in the face with an industrial edge. Grinding chords, hints of grunge and nasal vocals carry the first half of the song. Then, almost unexpectedly, an extended instrumental bridge - like a crescendo - leads into a truly bizarre poetry reading laid over horns. I would love to have the lyrics at this point as the layering is very complex and intricate, painting vivid portraits of a megalomaniac and his relationship with the world.
"Cigarette Daydreams" closes this release. It's a beautiful piece driven by acoustic guitar. It's a happy, sweet tune that ties everything together perfectly and leaves you feeling deeply fulfilled. Melophobia is one of the most original and eclectic releases I've heard in a long time. There's not a bad tune on here and enough variety to please music lovers of all eras and genres. I only have one complaint: thirty-eight minutes is simply not enough time to enjoy this exquisite recording.