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Album Review: Cage the Elephant – Unpeeled

2 min read
Photo: RCA/Neil Krug

A ghostly hand with creepy blue gunk, a kitchen blade holding up a halved orange, and a quirky brunette with killer eyelashes provocatively licking said orange can only mean one thing – Cage the Elephant have released their new and first ever (mostly) live album, Unpeeled.
With a run time of 1 hour 20 minutes, the live album, with some tweaking in the studio, is not for the faint-hearted.  The band has stripped back their sound, birthing the name Unpeeled, replacing keyboards and synthesisers with a string section instead.  This has a much more mellow feel, even with the crowd’s roaring approval voiced throughout, but sadly means Cage the Elephant have lost a little of their uniqueness in the process.

Cage the Elephant have treated fans to a mix of acoustic remakes of their own tracks as well as covers.  Their hit Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked transfers seamlessly into this album, with none of the original charm compromised for losing the studio extras.

The same unfortunately can’t be said for Spiderhead.  The synthetic studio work for the original track created a chaotic, nightmarish feel within the music.  This is an essential feature for a song claiming ‘Spiders in my hair, spiders in my mind,’ which doesn’t come across on this album.  The string section however does add a little dramatic urgency instead, still keeping this an interesting listen.

Another standout track is their cover of Daft Punk’s Instant Crush.  The original has Julian Casablancus’ heavily edited voice, gently telling us about a a messy love story.  The music on this cover suits the song perfectly, but Matthew Shultz’s voice isn’t quite up to the challenge, remaining flat and sounding a little strained at times.

Even without a keyboard and synths, this is a refreshing album from Cage the Elephant.  It’s been nice to take a step back and slow down with the band, but we’re missing their hectic noise already.