Cage the Elephant has been one unexpected trip so far. They broke out with the mainstream success on their self-titled debut in 2008, propelled by radio darlings, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “In One Ear”. Both songs to this day I don’t like very much. Yet they won me over on 2011’s Thank You, Happy Birthday a less commercial tribute to grunge. Where I would have imagined Cage the Elephant descending further into experimental waters they’ve instead met somewhere between their first two albums. Where as the first album was full of commercial rock bravado and the second was a frenzied garage of noise, Melophobia is fairly unassuming. The vibe is more relaxed and mid tempo, like it’s the after party of their first two albums.
The leadoff single, “Come a Little Closer” is a good representation of the mood on Melophobia. The verse is low-key, faintly mysterious, that builds to a standard pop chorus, all at a careful pacing. It lacks the punch of your typical Cage the Elephant single but it gets the job done. If there’s one song really worth taking notice of it’s “Spiderhead”. The song is a retro rumble of distorted guitars against a dissonant honky tonk piano that sees this album at its liveliest. It’s a little disappointing that this level of excitement is never fully captured again. And at the end of the day that’s what’s lacking: excitement. I’m sure on Cage the Elephant’s next album we’ll see yet another variation on their style, and maybe then they’ll have my ears.