By Kieran Webber
Cage the Elephant have come along way since their release of ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’ and have developed into one of the strongest rock bands around today. Their latest release ‘Unpeeled’ which is a collection of stripped down versions of songs from their previous four releases is a testament to their ever growing sound and boasts the bands musicianship. Speaking about the album frontman Matt Shultz says; “Many times you’re adding sonic layers looking for something to hide behind, and what you don’t realize is that that vulnerability and that nakedness might be the most compelling and interesting thing about the song.” He couldn’t be more correct, by stripping back their layers they have relished in simplicity and it really works. The album breathes new life into their older material and rejuvenates their already fantastic sound.
The album is a thumping 21 songs long, which is in my opinion just a little bit too long especially as it is reworks of older songs with a couple of covers thrown in. However, although a long listen there is some absolute gold within this album. The opening track ‘Cry Baby’ throws you into a chasmic trail of throwbacks to the golden era of music, with serenading guitars and pulsing bongos it is an enticing wander into the far out. This aura and sound is heard throughout the album especially on tracks ‘Shake Me Down’ and the Charlie Day inspired ‘Spiderhead’.
The stripped back feel to their music opens up a whole new layer of beauty especially in the more mellow tracks such as ‘How Are You True’, ‘Telescope’ and ‘Trouble’. The addition of the strings and percussion creates this air of strain and pushes forward the lyrical content that is deeply romantic, haunting and outright stunning.
Cage The Elephant also throw in three cover tracks for good measure, covering The Stranglers ‘Golden Brown’, Wreckless Erics ‘Whole Wide World’ and Daft Punk’s ‘Instant Crush’. Now, neither of these covers are worth shouting home about but it is nice to hear them with the bands spin.
Overall ‘Unpeeled’ offers a unique insight into the bands overwhelming musical talent and boasts the bands songwriting ability. It’s not a new album and there isn’t any new songs but what Cage The Elephant have done is breath new life into their older material. This is no easy task and they have done it with masterful grace. Yes some new material would be nice but if this album does one thing it gets you excited for Cage The Elephants future.