Cage The Elephant: Tell Me I’m Pretty

Morricone for gutter snakes.

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Tell them they’re pretty? Needy, much? But then Kentucky’s Cage The Elephant could use some love. Despite bagging a No.2 US album with their engrossing 2011 second record Thank You, Happy Birthday and two Alternative Chart No.1 hits from 2013’s Melophobia, they remain so far under the radar in the UK that they may well be an undisclosed element of the Trident renewal project.

For their fourth, then, they’ve recruited The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach as producer to inject a touch of bluesy Tex-Mex populism, and it certainly does the trick. The album is infused with a filthy, crackling, psych-western feel: the brittle Cold Cold Cold is sheer vampiric Morricone while the ultra-distorted T.Rex jig of That’s Right is the sound of the devil leading a hoedown through the ruins of Chernobyl.

Elsewhere it’s a smorgasbord of modern rootsiness: a White Stripes-via-Black Keys stomp drives the likes of Mess Around and Punchin’ Bag – about a woman fighting back against an abusive partner – while Cry Baby swipes a little of Tame Impala’s Perthadelic buzz.

Too Late To Say Goodbye resembles an Arctic Monkeys Bond theme and Portuguese Knife Fight could be The Hives slipping into a debilitating heroin dependency. Add one of 2015’s swooniest ballads in Trouble and you’ve got an album that’s not exactly pretty, but is definitely a keeper.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.