Album Review: “Tell Me I’m Pretty”

Hayden Johnson, Staff Writer, The Hi-Times

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When Cage the Elephant first came on the scene they were a super loud, nasty sounding and rambunctious group. CTE was not afraid to go for an easy A. Their first albums were good but mostly consisted of typical and uninteresting chord progressions and overused rap/sing/speak type of lyrical expression, but something has changed in the past few years that really made CTE stick out and obtain the potential to become one of the best rock groups today.

I wasn’t a huge fan of CTE until they released their 2013 album, “Melophobia.” The first single was “Come a Little Closer.” I wasn’t particularly impressed, and I couldn’t really say that I loved the song but I was excited that the band’s sound had transformed into something new. I waited for the album to release in October. I fell in love with CTE after this album, and they made their way to the list of my top five favorite current rock groups with just 10 tracks expertly placed into this album.

“Melophobia” was that rare album that you can listen to anytime, anyplace and anyway. This album seemed to take the band into a new direction musically. The last song on the album, “Cigarette Daydreams,” leaves the listener wanting more. I couldn’t wait for the next album. I wanted more “Melophobia” when the next album arrived, but that’s not what I got at all.

All throughout 2015 CTE fans were hopeful of what truth came with rumors of the new album. It wasn’t until the end of October that fans got a taste of the new album. CTE released a music video for the first single, “Mess Around,” and it was unexpected and wonderful.

Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys not only produced the record, but ripped a gritty solo toward the backend of the new single. Two more singles, “Trouble” and “Too Late to Say Goodbye,”  were released and both tracks excited me. “Too Late to Say Goodbye” was something I had never heard from CTE. Matthew Shultz, leadman of CTE, explained that the song is about Bonnie and Clyde. It was written in “Bonnie’s perspective” as being a “pyromaniac falling in love with fire.”

The album released on Dec. 18, 2015. I wanted “Tell Me I’m Pretty” to be somewhat of a “Melophobia Part II,” but it wasn’t that at all; it was better. The album is covered in punchy guitar licks and expertly placed drums; though the lyrics are probably the best part. Cage the Elephant has improved lyrically with every album they’ve released, and “Tell Me I’m Pretty” is no exception. The words in some songs like “Sweetie Little Jean” and “Too Late to Say Goodbye” paint a not-so-pretty picture but present the listener with a detailed story. Songs like “Punchin’ Bag” provide the listener with a catchy, stripped-down rock song to dance and sing along to. There’s not a bad song on this album. I’ve listened to it non-stop since its release. “Tell Me I’m Pretty” is, without a doubt, in my top three albums of 2015 and has the potential to remain on the list through 2016.

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