Tell Me I'm Pretty

Cage The Elephant

RCA, 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Cage The Elephant is one of those bands that doesn’t really have a personality of its own, but rather looks to their record collection for inspiration when it comes time to record a new album. This time around on their fourth release, the inspiration comes from the Black Keys and '60s era British Invasion rave-ups. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As with the previous albums, it’s an approach that works because of how the band modernizes all those influences instead of simply replicating them. There’s nothing groundbreaking or forward-looking here, of course, but neither is this stuck in a time warp, a feat that’s tricky to pull off.

The Keys influence is likely due to producer and half of the Keys Dan Auerbach, who recorded the band in his studio and can’t help giving the songs the polish and echo of El Camino and Turn Blue. The 10 songs whiz by in a paisley hue saturated with the Yardbirds (“Cold Cold Cold”), the Animals (“Punchin’ Bag”) and Detroit’s Stooges (“Portuguese Knife Fight”), with the vocal approach and general atmosphere belonging to the Keys, who are rapidly turning into one of the most influential bands of the last 10 years.

But the songs are efficient and sparkly fun – not as edgy as before but just as rollicking, as on “That’s Right” and “Mess Around,” which could have been released anytime between The Zombies’ heyday and winter 2015 without anyone batting an eye, such is their timeless nature. “Trouble” is one of the better songs, pulled straight from the White Album, while “Cold Cold Cold” is darker than the rest and is all the better for it.

The short, fun stomps of most of these songs (save the mediocre acoustic number “How Are You True”), and the fact that many of them are first takes, lends this an infectious garage rock feel. Maybe we’re still getting to know the real Cage The Elephant, but as long as they put out solid records like this, who’s to argue?

Rating: B-

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