Cage the Elephant made a big deal when they hit the rock scene with their ambitious first album. They managed to blow everyone away again with their second album. Everything that was great on their previous work is improved by 10 times here, which I didn’t even think was possible. This is the record that shows Cage the Elephant is a force to be reckon with in music. While this album may be missing some influences and elements found on their previous effort, is still manages to stand on its own.
The album opens with the creepy “Always Something.” Singer Matt Schultz makes his presence known with a raspy yell to get the song started. The guitar twang echoes throughout the song and makes it sound as if you need to look over your shoulder to make sure no one is watching you. This is a cryptic track that talks about the dangers and crimes that happen at night. There’s even a cool spoken word part where Matt talks about his “eyeballs out and looking at the fear.” The song has a creepy vibe, but is still awesome nonetheless.
The album continues with the energetic “Aberdeen,” the wild and chaotic “Indy Kidz” and the bittersweet “Shake Me Down.” At this point, you notice a change with the band’s music. Whereas the first album was full of energetic, wild, fast songs that you couldn’t keep up with, the songs here take it down a notch. They are still full of energy and some are still insane and unstable like “Sell Yourself” or “Saber-tooth Tiger.” But for the most part the songs are tighter and are a bit calmer than before. Though the songs aren’t as wild as before, they are still awesome and kickass. The band even takes a radical change in their sound by having several slow songs here.
The track “Rubber Ball” is probably the slowest song on the album and though it’s a change for the hyper band, it’s still an impressive track. It has a bright, soothing acoustic guitar playing alongside Matt’s soft, crooning vocals. This is a sweet sounding song that leaves Matt sounding vulnerable. It may put you off at first because it’s so different, but it’s a great song that shows that the band doesn’t have to play loud and fast to make good music.
The last two slow tracks “Flow” and “Right Before My Eyes” pick up the pace a bit, but are still on the slow side. The latter song is a mellow tune that features more bittersweet moments from the band. The former song has a bright, melodic guitar riff that’s very calming. There are even different instruments playing here like bongos. It’s soothing for the most part until Matt begins randomly yelling. Though these songs are slow, they are still great and show a different side to the band.
Two standout songs from the album are “Around my Head” and “Japanese Buffalo.” The first song is one of my favorites. It begins with a weird melody that sounds like its being sung through a kazoo. It’s a very playful song that features Matt’s sloppy drunk vocals. It also shows off their wit. I swear you’ll fall in love with the line “You got me tangled like a bread tie twisted.” The latter song starts out like a 50’s doo wop song with the spoken intro before the tempo speeds up. The lyrics speed past in a blur; you can’t even keep up with them. The tempo comes back down during the bridge and goes back to sounding like doo wop. It even has the cheesy falsetto that those songs are known for. It may be a bit different from the band, but it works extremely well for them.
The musical influences that were featured on their previous effort are missing on this album. The debut record featured obvious inspiration from Southern rock and the psychedelic era. Everything from the vocals to the music featured elements from these two genres, but these elements seem to missing here. The songs here have more of an alternative rock/indie vibe to them. It’s not bad that these sounds are missing, in fact it shows the band growing. They have managed to create their own sound and don’t feel the need to borrow elements from other genres.
Overall, the album gets 10/10. This is an awesome album. If you didn’t fall in love with the band when they released their debut, you will when you listen to this record. It features kickass songs that are intense and full of energy just like the band themselves. The songs still feature Matt’s insane, sloppy, and unstable vocals that really add a unique spin on the music. This is an underrated band that deserves more credit. Hopefully, we’ll see more music from them soon.