Melophobia is the title of Cage The Elephant’s third album, a decorative word meaning fear of music. In its entirety, the record is a retrospective and grim realization of what events of the past can mean for the future. It’s a faced fear of Shultz and the band, and gives listeners the most honest, raw compilation of songs yet by the Kentucky rockers.
“You can drive all night/ looking for the answers in the pouring rain,” sings frontman, Matt Shultz, in the album’s closer, “Cigarette Daydreams.” With a combination of sparse acoustic guitars, piano, and wandering, rumbling drums, Shultz unconvincingly assures us that there are no answers. Yet we search, and instead of answers, we find reasons. We find that “a reason to stay” and “a reason to change” may be enough for peace of mind.
As each puff of a cigarette diminishes time, Shultz contemplates if “it’s time well spent, or time I’ve wasted,” in the song “Telescope.” Tortured lyrics reveal an introspective Shultz, looking at himself and his life through his own scope. The song frantically whirls around his words about matters and meanings, feelings of being misunderstood, loneliness, fear, disparity, and in regard to the wistfulness of time, Shultz leaves a note to self: “Don’t waste it.”
The album’s leading single, “Come A Little Closer,” is a song about isolation with a classic Cage The Elephant messy garage rock sound. In the final 30-seconds of “It’s Just Forever,” a mixture of manic piano playing and distant screaming shatters Shultz’s desperate, repetitive wail of the lyric, “forever.” In the song, “Teeth,” a cacophony of guitars and horns lead into an eerie spoken verse in which Shultz utters, “I lose my voice in between the echoes of self-serving prophecy.”
For Shultz and the band, Melophobia is a cathartic release and an album of self-discovery. To have consistency in sound, yet remain fresh is something that’s not easily achieved, and something Cage The Elephant does well. This project reveals a new layer of artistry for the band, with lyrics attached to melodies so personal to Shultz and members, yet relatable to all.