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Tell Me I’m Pretty

Tell Me I’m Pretty

Cage the Elephant’s recent album wins big at the Grammys

The Kentucky-bred and London-acclaimed band Cage the Elephant won its first Grammy for Best Rock Album during the 2017 ceremony for their record Tell Me I’m Pretty, beating out top bands such as Panic! at the Disco, Weezer, and Blink-182. With such a seemingly self-involved title, the four man group’s new album lyrically grapples between self-doubt and confidence within each song, but the guitar riffs and hypnotic drum beat just reaffirm the band’s eclectic flair. While their three previous albums seemed a perfect blend of organized chaos, what with lead singer Matt Shultz’s notable incoherent screaming at various times and breathless vocals paired with hodgepodge instrumentals, Tell Me I’m Pretty shows a more mature, refined quartet.

Cage the Elephant is one of those sui generis bands that bring a new style to each album, while still keeping that imaginative spirit alive that guarantees a loyal fan base. Practically each song showcases the lead guitar that brings a frenetic energy paired with morbid lyrics that sound more like affirmations that testify to the oddness of life and the need to live through each moment.

With just ten songs on the album, Cage the Elephant elegantly packs a whole lot of philosophical questions into songs that average four minutes. For starters, the topic of domestic abuse is tackled in “Punchin’ Bag,” in which it refutes the notion of a hapless victim and warns abusers of consequences. “Mess Around” is the perfect feminist anthem, in which it warns against underestimating a woman who does just what the title suggests: “No, she don’t mess around” and “She’ll show you what she’s made of”.

Upon a first listen for the album, the songs are so artistically placed in order that they smoothly transition the listener from the energetic track of “Sweetie Little Jean” to a more laid back and indulgent “Too Late to Say Goodbye”. While the opening track of “Cry Baby” is reminiscent of the conventional love sick person who is lustful, the song holds the warning to “Open up your eyes/or life will pass you by”. The closing number of “Portuguese Knife Fight” marks the conclusion of the band’s musings by referencing the crazed lover once again, but this time, the singer also feels the erratic thoughts. After a gorgeous guitar solo in the intro, he gets straight to the point by telling his Juliet, “I wanna waste my life with you/Well the look in your eyes says you’re feeling the same way too”.

One of the best selling songs off the album, “Trouble”, is different compared to Cage the Elephant’s usual stunners such as “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “In One Ear” and more like their more widely known “Cigarette Daydreams”. It’s more dreamy, nostalgic, and Shultz seems at a daze to the wonders of life, singing “Trouble on my left/trouble on my right/I’ve been facing trouble almost all my life”. Their devil-may-care attitude is still in full force; the music video for “Cold Cold Cold” literally deals with an asylum treating its patient, coupled with the strut that only this band can carry who perform on an impromptu stage. However, this album wanders off their beaten path to experiment with a more classic alternative style with an innovative twist.

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