Music review: Cage the Elephant

Matthew Schultz of Cage the Elephant performing at the O2 ABC in Glasgow. Picture: Calum Buchan Photography

Matthew Schultz of Cage the Elephant performing at the O2 ABC in Glasgow. Picture: Calum Buchan Photography

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Cage the Elephant are a blank canvas, a band without a face. Each of their songs blatantly recalls the work of other, better artists. Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked is a brisk assault on The White Stripes. Trouble is Eels fused to the falsetto hook from Pixies’ Where Is My Mind. The airy funk-pop of Modest Mouse shakes hands with The Strokes on Take It Or Leave It.

O2 ABC, Glasgow **

Apart from the jack-knifing exertions of singer Matthew Shultz – which are, almost as a matter of course, cribbed from the Mick Jagger workout video unspooling inside the heads of most white rock front-men, even to this day – these American alt-rock magpies have no discernible focal point, visually or musically. They’re just another group of unreasonably amplified men, chugging through the motions with no original thoughts of their own.

Shultz’s backing musicians – they never convince as a band in any unified, organic sense – are like bollards, stoically plying their trade with all the frenzied dedication of someone holding a “Golf Sale” sign.

If Cage the Elephant marketed themselves as cheeky parodists of practically every major American alt-rock detour of the last 25 years, then perhaps they’d be applauded for their uncanny accuracy: the entertaining musical equivalent of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan trading Michael Caine impressions. But no, we’re supposed to take them seriously as a creative voice in their own right. How will that ever be possible when all they provide are echoes?

PAUL WHITELAW

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