I’m not particularly good at running and I’ve spent more hours meticulously dissecting my abilities to figure out my downfalls rather than practicing and generally improving. However, what I have gathered is that pace is everything. Similarly, after the heart pounding sprint that was Cage the Elephant’s sophomore LP Thank You Happy Birthday they have tied up their trainers once again after a two year breather but I can’t help but think they’re still fatigued.
Melophobia sees Matt Shultz and Co build on the slower and less ferocious elements of their two previous LPs which we witnessed on tracks like Rubber Ball and Flow. I would go as far as to say this release is a sequel to TYHP, a clear indicator of this is on track Cigarette Daydreams which is a sweet acoustic and piano infused tune which reminded me of track Shake Me Down, because it is Shake Me Down. Following the same key and vocal phrasing might be defended with the old ‘if it ain’t broke’ schtick but that doesn’t fly with me, frankly I think it’s a lazy and uninspired play of Cage the Elephant’s part.
It’s not all as morose and cynical as that. Come A Little Closer, a track that dropped a few moon cycles ago, shows the bands development into more mature grounds. They seem to have pawned off the Psych influenced Punk vibes and substituted them to a more clinically and sanded down rock direction, overtly shown in the production as well as the instrumentation on this track. It’s not going to rattle any cages but it’ll pass as a debut single.
In terms of lyricism Shultz steps up the part. Conspired theories would suggest that CtE sacrificed their punk spirit to a Volcano god in exchange for grotesque imagery and a general apathy to life. Not a favorable trade mind but it makes for some seriously deprecating lyrics. “Bleeding from the holes in my face/But I don’t wanna give it away”. This is where Melophobia recovers. Among the muddy fields of sub-standard and unmemorable guitar lines glints morsels of potential ideas and progression which manage to grow out of a swell mediocrity on occasions. Saving grace of the LP It’s Just Forever features one Alison Mosshart of The Kills and Dead Weather fame. She seriously brings some much needed paranoia and energy to an otherwise lackluster track, a truly stolen show.
It seems as if I am overly critical but I, as like many music fans, hate to see squandered potential. Closing track Telescope is an aptly sentimental end to what I like to coin as a luke-warm carousel ride of a record. With what seems to be not one raucous bone left in their collective body I am hereby renaming this band. Cage the Elephant? Unsuited. Cage the Opossum more like.
Listen here: Cage The Elephant – Melophobia