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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cage the Elephant’s latest “Tell Me I’m Pretty” changes the band’s formula

    Albm cover for Cage The Elephant’s latest release Tell Me I’m Pretty. Photo Courtesy of RCA Records.
    Albm cover for Cage The Elephant’s latest release Tell Me I’m Pretty. Photo Courtesy of RCA Records.

    Ask somebody who their favorite alternative rock band from Kentucky is and most people wouldn’t have an answer. For those who do have an answer, though, Cage The Elephant would be one of the most common responses.

    Cage The Elephant made its way out of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and into the indie-rock stage in 2008 with their smash hit “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” and have been building momentum ever since. The result of this momentum can be seen with the band’s newest release, Tell Me I’m Pretty.

    On past releases, the band has received criticism for lead singer Matt Schultz’s tendency to blatantly scream instead of sing. However, this is not the case for Tell Me I’m Pretty. The record is a pleasant blend of retro ‘60s and ‘70s rock accompanied by more modern styles, creating a more mature sound than the band’s previous work.

    The album jumps right in with the groovy track “Cry Baby.” The chorus gets a bit repetitive, but it’s still a strong start to the record. This transitions to the lead single off the album, “Mess Around.” Everything about the song feels carefully planned and well executed — indication that Cage the Elephant is becoming more meticulous about its material. Schultz is given a chance to really show off his chops as a vocalist when he hits some incredibly high notes in “Sweetie Little Jean,” a rather sad tune about a missing girl. It turns out that when he really sings, he’s quite talented.

    “Too Late to Say Goodbye” starts slow but builds to an incredibly catchy chorus, once again representing a more mature sound from the band. The track feels emotional, but it’s relaxing to listen to. “Cold Cold Cold,” a song with a fantastic guitar riff at the beginning, changes things up with a chorus that makes you want to get up and dance.

    “Trouble” is one of the most popular songs off the album and it’s not hard to see why. “Trouble” evokes a mystical feeling that makes you want to go outside and look at the stars. After stargazing, you can come back in and relax with “How Are You True,” the slowest song on the album.

    “That’s Right” follows as an upbeat track with a faster pace that ends explosively. The song is the perfect precursor for the mood of “Punchin’ Bag,” which deviates from the Tell Me I’m Pretty formula and sounds similar to the band’s earlier work.

    At this point, it’s time to end the album, and the band does so with the lackluster “Portuguese Knife Fight.” This is one of the weaker tracks on the record, so it’s questionable why this was chosen as the finale.

    At only 10 tracks, Tell Me I’m Pretty is a short album, but one definitely worth listening to. The Black Keys’ front man Dan Auerbach helped produce the record, and his presence is felt with the way that everything on the album seems more relaxed. It’s all well and good that Cage The Elephant have decided to reel it in a little bit and opt for a smoother sound, but at the same time, a lot of their greatness in the past decade resulted from their willingness to cut loose with their music.

    For this reason, I don’t think this new album is quite as strong as their previous entry, 2013’s Melophobia. Tell Me I’m Pretty represents a change for the band, but it’s up for debate whether they should embrace that change in its future records.

    Grade: B+

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter.

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