The debut album from this enigmatic band is one that will leave an impression on you. It will make you obsessed with them to the point where you go out and get everything they’ve ever done. And if you’re lucky you’ll even see them live. This energetic album will keep you moving from beginning to end. Cage the Elephant proves rock and roll is not dead. It’s just well hidden.
The album opens with the energetic and wild track “In One Ear.” This song has a great infectious groove and awesome guitar playing going throughout. And the story that’s presented in the lyrics could possibly harken back to when the band first started and the criticism they received. Another great thing about the track is it gives the listener a chance to hear the awesome and powerful vocals of Matt Shultz . Here he lets out a wild scream towards the end of the song that will take you by surprise and wow you at the same time. It’s a great start to the album because it gets you moving.
Another song you’ll find here is the band’s most popular track “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” This song has a great Western twang to it that makes it feel as if you’re in a desolate, dusty land. It also has a Southern rock flavor to it, which you’ll find in other tracks on the album. This song is also pretty dark with subjects ranging from a hooker to a stealing preacher all trying to make a buck. It’s a great song, but they have better songs out there in my opinion. But if anything it’s a great track to at least get you interested in the band.
There is never a dull moment on this album because all of the songs are so great. They have great energy, awesome music, impressive vocals, and unique lyrics. And even though the music is great on its own, the lyrics deserved to be noticed as well. They really are clever, showing the band’s wit and have some great images in them. In the song “Back Against the Wall” has the great line “My tongue has now become a platform for your lies.” It’s these types of lyrics that makes the band stands out from the rest.
There is also some awesome guitar playing on this album. It’s electrifying, out of control, and full of life. What makes the guitar so great is that it varies on each song. Some songs have a straight up rock and roll feel to it, while other riffs are taken from the 60’s. Most of the time the music comes off as organized chaos. There are so many things going on with the music you can’t wrap your head around it. But in other songs, the guitar is soothing and mellow. All the different sounds here is what makes this album stand out from the rest.
As mentioned before the vocals will amaze you. It’s not that Matt Shultz is a great singer who could hold his own with a trained vocalist, but there’s something about his singing that makes you fall in love with him. The vocals are wild, sloppy, and at times playful. There are moments in songs when it seems like he loses all control and screams his head off. There are other times when his singing is clam and sounds more sincere. He definitely has a unique voice, the kind that you’ll recognize instantly whenever you hear it.
The music here is also great because they take different elements from all types of music to create their own sound. There are elements of funk, rock n’ roll, and country music found in their songs, but looking at the album as a whole it is mostly influenced by Southern rock and psychedelic music. In the songs “Judas,” “Free Love” and “Soil to the Sun” there are different moments from the guitar playing to the singing that makes you think of the drug infused music of the 60’s. There are other songs like “Back-Stabbin’ Betty” that has a slow twanging guitar running through it while Matt sings the story of “Poor man John Thomas” and his overbearing woman that makes you think about the good ol’ Southern rock. Though the mixture may sound weird, Cage the Elephant finds a way to make it work.
Overall, this album gets 9/10. All the songs are great and are guaranteed to get you moving. The unique vocals and the Southern rock guitar playing ensures that you’ll have the album stuck in your head well after the last song has finished. This is an energetic band that only gets better in a live setting. This album is the kind that makes you take notice of the band and it makes you excited for what they will do in the future.
Have you ever seen this band live? What’s your favorite track from the album? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.