Sound — 7
Cage The Elephant was formed in 2006 and received pretty much instant success with the release of their first album in 2008. While their sound has been fairly eclectic, the band has a character which is unmistakable and helps them stand out to listeners. It has been two years since their last release, and the album has been much awaited by their fans. This is the band's third album and has 10 tracks and a runtime under 40 minutes. The first single from the album is "Come a Little Closer" which was released in August 2013.
The album opens with the track "Spiderhead," which finds them sounding more like their sound from their sophomore release, than their debut. There is definitely an element of punk rock as well as something that is vaguely retro. Their lead single, "Come a Little Closer," is the second track on the album which is carried in large part by the bassline and almost slurred vocals in the verses. "Telescope" has an almost psychedelic feel to it, and seems to be about Matthew Shultz's recent time spending time at his home, decorating and such. "It's Just Forever" goes even further into that psychedelic type of sound with some seriously fuzzed guitar and pounding bassline, and some female vocals by Alison Mosshart adding some more texture to the song during the chorus. "Take It or Leave It" makes use of some analog sounding delay kind of reaching back to surf rock while keeping the modern elements that make Cage The Elephant the band that they are. "Halo" uses some interesting guitar noise, and again this track is propelled forward by the bass. "Black Widow" has a really interesting tremolo effect going on for part of the sing and finds Shultz singing in a fairly high register for a lot of the song - once again, this song sounds really retro - thinking late '50s or '60s, with a splash of weirdness. "Hypocrite" is possibly my favorite track on the album, mainly because it is played pretty loose, uses non-traditional percussion sounds and surreal lyrics. "Teeth" is a driving song with the the guitar opening with some screaming feedback and goes into something you might have expected Kurt Cobain to play while messing around in the garage. This song also has a cool driving bassline. The album closes out with the track "Cigarette Daydreams," which is an acoustic track with some reverb soaked vocals. It creates a cool mood to close the album out on.
Lyrics — 8
Matthew Shultz has a lot of character in his voice, which really does a lot for me in the realm of vocalists. He does a good job on the album, going from an almost slurred lazy voice to a plaintive whine and everything inbetween. The backup vocals are solid throughout the album, as well. The female vocals by Alison Mosshart used on the track "It's Just Forever" was definitely a nice touch. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some lyrics from the track "Cigarette Daydreams": "Did you stand there all alone? / Oh I cannot explain what's going down/ I can see you standing next to me/ In and out somewhere else right now/ You sigh look away/ I can see it clear as day/ Close your eyes so afraid/ Hide behind that baby face/ You can drive all night/ Looking for answers in the pouring rain/ You wanna find peace of mind/ Looking for the answer/ Funny how it seems like yesterday/ As I recall you were looking out of place/ Gathered up your things and slipped away/ No time at all I followed you into the hall/ Cigarette Daydreams."
Overall Impression — 8
I've enjoyed most everything that Cage The Elephant has done, and feel the same about this album. While their sound is distinctive, they've added an element of some older music from the '50s, '60s and '70s in various songs on the album and have really branched out creatively. My favorite tracks on the album would probably be "Hypocrite," "Come a Little Closer" and "Cigarette Daydreams." The band also has some kind of knack at creating a certain mood with their music that I can't quite define, but makes me feel more carefree than before I listened to the album.