Album review: Cage The Elephant - Tell Me I’m Pretty
- Credit: Archant
Stephen Moore wonders if the American quartet can imbue their fuzzy, mainstream blues-rock with enough of an identity.
Popular Stateside despite critical agnosticism, the Kentucky band’s fourth album sees them change tack to hook up with Dan Auerbach of big-name blues-pop grafters The Black Keys.
His pawprints are all over tracks like opener Cry Baby which, with its lightly fuzzy, taut guitars and choral backing vocals, certainly shares the aesthetic - if not the pop appeal -of the Keys’ 2011 hit Lonely Boy.
The chugging rhythm and treated vocals of Too Late To Say Goodbye, and sunnier, chiming lead single Trouble both bask in the Akron, Ohio band’s vibe, too.
The subject matter gets pretty dark, too, from domestic violence and depression to Sweetie Little Jean’s tale of a desperate search for a missing girl - apparently based on a true story of a murderous kidnap.
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But despite lead singer Matt Shultz’s semi-distinctive nasal delivery - like the lovechild of Mark Bolan and Empire Of The Sun’s Luke Steele - Tell Me I’m Pretty’s cohort of songs struggle to establish the Elephant’s identity.
Sure, it’s good while it’s on - the devil-may-care, footloose lyrical cheer of That’s Right is matched by its elastic bounce and sense of fun, and the drum-and-tambourine stomp of Punchin’ Bag bursts with convicton - but there’s not enough verve in any single song.
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