By: Derek Jung
If you told me five or six years ago that Cage The Elephant would release a boring, ho-hum rock album, I wouldn't have believed you. Their self-titled debut album was one of the best rock albums of the year, tip-toeing the line between out of control energy and enthusiastic, exciting punk-influenced rock. Fast forward to the present and Cage The Elephant has released their most forgettable album since the way too noisy Thank You, Happy Birthday. That being said, I don't think it's necessarily all the band's fault.
I saw Cage The Elephant live for the second time back in September 2014 in Columbus, Ohio when they opened for The Black Keys. The latter had just released one of the most disappointing albums in their history, Turn Blue, and Cage The Elephant's presence on the tour gave me hope that they would transfer some of their manic energy to The Black Keys, which to this day still needs a jolt to keep them interesting. Instead, the opposite happened. Cage The Elephant tapped Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach, Grammy winner for Producer of the Year in 2013, to produce the follow up to 2014's super successful Melophobia. What we got was an overly produced, "Dan Auerbach sounding" record that lost much of what made Cage The Elephant a great band to listen to. The most damning evidence of this is that on every song, if you replace Matthew Shultz's lead vocals with Auerbach's, you'd have an album that sounded eerily similar to his side project, The Arcs. Desert-fuzzed guitars, elements of old school latino flair litter each track, and even the guitar solos sound like they could've been played by Auerbach himself.
Lead single, "Mess Around", "Trouble", and "Portuguese Knife Fight" are the closest sounding Cage The Elephant songs on the entire album, but even the former has the "Auerbach elements". Besides these few, if you were hoping for more of the classic Cage The Elephant sound, there's not much here.
If you know me, you'll know of my disdain for certain Danger Mouse produced albums. Now, I'll give credit where credit is due. He did some good work for The Black Keys, Attack & Release specifically, but I think his persona and production style has rubbed off on Dan Auerbach, and unfortunately this has never been more glaringly obvious than on this album.
Frankly, I'm just going to try to forget that this album ever happened and hope that they choose a different producer next time.
And Dan, please just stop.
My Number: 2/10
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here.