TELL ME I’M PRETTY
“With this record, we wanted to be more transparent,” says Matt Shultz, lead singer of Cage the Elephant. “We wanted to capture the sentiment of each song, and whatever emotional response it provoked, to be really honest to that.”
With their fourth album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, Cage the Elephant are pushing the advances they made with their last record—2013’s Melophobia, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Album—while also drawing from the sounds that initially inspired them to start making music back in their hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky. The results are the band’s most forceful and focused songs yet, a set of concise, punchy garage-pop with a feel that guitarist Brad Shultz describes as “a psychedelic John Wayne at an Iggy Pop show.”
Long celebrated as one of the most explosive live bands in the world, Melophobia took the band to new heights, spinning off two Number One singles on the Alternative charts, “Come a Little Closer” and “Cigarette Daydreams.” The group felt a new liberation during the course of making that record, a confidence that carried over into the sessions for Pretty.
“The last record was such a big breakthrough for us that it spilled over into this one, and allowed us to work freely from the very start,” says Brad. “Usually I feel so empty after each record—like we’ve poured everything out and there’s nothing left in the tank. But I was so inspired that I just continued to write, and it was really natural and enjoyable.”
Matt claims that some of the album’s direction can be traced to a blistering performance he gave at Bonnaroo in 2013, singing “Break On Through (to the Other Side)” at the late-night SuperJam backed by an all-star band including Robbie Krieger of the Doors. “It was a massive affirmative,” he says. “Rock and roll has become somewhat of an uncool thing to talk about in the mainstream world, almost as if it’s a dirty word. With that performance, I could clearly see that it to be a hole that’s missing in music today—that classic sound and energy that people are dying for. We definitely wanted to pay homage to that, to the bands we discovered rock and roll through, the music we cut our teeth on.”
“When me and Matt started writing,” says Brad, “it was because of our father, who was a songwriter. We listened to Tommy James and the Shondells, the Beatles, Chuck Berry, the Stones. That’s what came natural to us. We were maybe fighting that on our previous records, but this time, the approach for me was that it’s sometimes better to take a step back to move forward.”