On album number four, Kentucky alternative rock band Cage the Elephant creates a psychedelic rock merger with producer Dan Auerbach.
The result is a revisit of a fertile period, the mid-1960s garage rock boom that launched more than a few raw-sounding bands into the mainstream.
The Elephant and Auerbach are a good collision, and the resulting crash is the primal and flowery Tell Me I’m Pretty.
The recording is a great way for the band and Auerbach (whose recent production excursions include with Lana Del Ray and Ray LaMontagne ) to indulge their blues, rock and roll, psychedelic and punk roots. It also entails the snottiness and inward looking outsider attitude that’s the essential DNA of rock roots.
Tell Me I’m Pretty was recorded in Nashville, not far removed from the group’s comfort zone in Kentucky. The proximity must work because the group and producer get consistent sounds that grab attention (Cold, Cold, Cold, Mess Around). There’s also sensitive tones, and songs like Trouble and Sweetie Little Jean that are full-blown minor key psychedelia.
Like any ambitious album, there’s a few crappers. How True Are You suffers from a lack of direction. This could also be a contrast to the rest of the record, which is tight and three dimensional.
Tell Me I’m Pretty is a tough mix of tripped out and blunt rock. The group has tapped into a gritty muse that’s stirred up some interesting sound and vision – a weird, raw and melodic one.
– Dean Gordon-Smith reviews the latest music releases for The Morning Star every Friday.