Cage The Elephant – Cage The Elephant

Release Date: April 21, 2009
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska

For those that have been listening to alternative radio this summer, Cage the Elephant’s single, “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” was almost impossible to miss. While the song was a rather quick success in the U.S., many people still aren’t familiar with either the band that wrote it or the other songs they’ve recorded. Oddly enough, Cage The Elephant found early success in England, a long way from their Bowling Green, KY roots. The band’s sound pays clear homage to those southern roots and mixes in a decidedly urban aspects for good measure.

“In One Ear” has a similar approach as “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” and makes extensive use of chanting/rapping on the vocals. While the song has it’s merits, there’s something more appealing about “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” with its greater use of slide guitar and a more southern sound which simply adds some interesting elements and makes the song stand out more from the rest.

“James Brown” and “Tiny Little Robots” move away from this vocal style somewhat and to good effect. The latter pulls in a little more pop-influence than some of the other tracks on the album but it is well balanced with some heavier guitar riffs and comes across as a solid song by being different enough from others that it is noticeable but not so different that the band seems to be trying too many different things at once.

Slowing down things rather considerably on “Back Against The Wall,” Cage the Elephant has written a fairly interesting track. It comes at a good point on the album, giving listeners a bit of a break after five rather intensely paced songs. At the same time, the song maintains some of the grit that is present on those earlier tracks, so, even though it’s much slower in pace, it doesn’t become boring.

“Back Stabbin’ Betty” is another good track with some nice blues and country influences. Like most of the band’s other songs, what makes this work so well is its balance. While there are clearly many genres that influence the band, it is their ability to make all the sounds work together and not seem disjointed or, worse still, as if the band has a split-personality, that makes their songs work. This isn’t squeaky clean pop-country. This isn’t full-out raunchy rap. This is an amalgamation of grit, grim, dirt, country, blues and some pop thrown in for good measure. What could have been a terrible mess ends up a fun album with some good possibilities. It probably won’t be long before more people in the U.S. sit up and take notice of Cage The Elephant.


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