Music Review: Cage the Elephant’s Melophobia


March 14, 2017

Cage The Elephant, an American alternative rock band, created their most famous album in October of 2013. The name of this album is Melophobia, which means “fear of music.” However, Cage The Elephant did not create this album in order to make the listener afraid. In fact, according to an MTV interview, the “fear of music” they are referencing here actually refers to them not being afraid to make the music that they want to make, rather than just doing it for the consumer. Melophobia contains ten songs, each with very different tempos, feels, length, and meanings.

The first song of Cage The Elephant’s Melophobia album is titled “Spiderhead.” This song starts off the album by immediately diving into the struggling thoughts and painful memories that Matt Schultz, the lead singer and songwriter of the band, has due to a bad breakup. The song starts with the line “I am the one you left for dead, say you want it too. You are the bullet in my head.” These lyrics refer to the girl breaking up with the writer, seemingly out of nowhere. The “bullet in my head” refers to the painful memory in his head that is so bad that it could kill him, much like a bullet. Later in the song the lyrics “spiders in my head, spiders in my mind” are heard. This again refers to the painful and annoying memories in his head that are apparently as bad as having your skull filled with spiders.

The second song on this album is called “Come a Little Closer.” This song was originally released as a single, and was later added as part of the album. This song has a very different vibe than Cage The Elephant is typically known for. The song has a far more spacey sound than  Cage The Elephant typically has. This song is about exactly what the title says, “coming a little closer” in order to be able to see the true or deeper meaning of something.

The third song on this album is “Telescope.” This song gives off a very different vibe again, as it is much softer and less gritty than the usual sounds of Cage The Elephant. Perhaps this is a specific sound that the term “melophobia” is referring to. The slow and emotional vibe of the song fits the lyrics well, as the song refers to boredom in life. Schultz was apparently bored of touring at the time, and didn’t know what to do with his life as time went on. He sees his life in two very distinct lights, “either it’s time well spent or time I’ve wasted.” The telescope that this song refers to is Schultz looking ahead in his life, but as the lyrics say, he only sees himself in his current state of boredom, as he has no idea what he is going to do with the rest of his life.

The fourth song on this album is quite ironically titled “It’s Just Forever.” This song refers to the love between two people in a relationship. The relationship that these two people have is apparently very strong… to the point where it is genuinely scary. The song is about loving someone for eternity, regardless of what happens until then. Some of the lyrics are particularly creepy, talking about loving each other until their bodies decompose, “and the skin falls off our bones.” This is all sung over top of a very fast tempo guitar rift, with both a male and a female singer. This song finishes off with a high pitched mashing of piano keys, giving it a last creepy push.

The fifth song of Cage The Elephant’s Melophobia is called “Take It or Leave It.” This song is again about an intimate relationship between two people; however, this time it’s much less creepy, and more realistic of a relationship. This song talks about the struggles between the two members of the relationship, and how the girl needs to make up or mind or else it’ll drive him insane. He is giving the girl an ultimatum by telling her to either “take it or leave it.” By this, Schultz is saying to either accept him for all he is, or separate completely.

The sixth song on this album is titled “Halo.” Although the title sounds completely harmless, it is actually referring to losing one’s innocence. We can see this meaning through the line, “I lost my Halo.” Although the song never directly says what the mistake was that made the writer lose their innocence, it is clear that it had to do with a girl. The writer is also embarrassed by this mistake, and decides that he “has to lay low” until his mistakes are forgotten or forgiven.

The seventh song on this album is called “Black Widow.” This song makes many parallels between a particular woman and a black widow spider. Black widow spiders are known to be extremely dangerous, and eat their mates for food after copulation. In the song, Matt Schultz refers to the girl wearing a red coat and having some strong smelling and irresistible perfume. This draws parallels to how the black widow spider has a red mark on its back, and releases pheromones into the air in order to attract a mate. Even though Schultz knows that he shouldn’t fall for this girls trap, he can’t resist her charm.

The eighth song on this album is titled “Hypocrite.” This song is about the mistakes that a man has been making that is ruining the good parts of his life. The person in the song is realizing his mistakes and feeling sorry for them. The writer contradicts many of his statements throughout the song, thus making himself a “hypocrite.” Although the writer knows that he’s “made a lot of mistakes,” he is truly sorry. In fact, he says that he is “bleeding through the holes in his face,” which refers to crying. These mistakes could be the same that he is referring to in “Halo.”

The ninth song on Cage The Elephant’s album, Melophobia, is titled “Teeth.” This song has a far clearer message than the others on the album. The whole point of this song is to express to the audience the feel of the music, and how music can be so good that you can “feel it in your teeth.” Schultz expresses many times how he can feel the beat in his teeth, and how it is consuming him. The song ends with sort of a spoken poem by Schultz, as he speaks of the world and the depressing events going on in it that need to change. All of this is sad while the instrumental of the song still continues in the background.

The tenth and final song of this album is called “Cigarette Daydreams.” This is a beautiful sounding song that speaks of looking back on a failed relationship. This relationship was apparently very long ago in Schultz’s past, as he refers to the girl as being 17. Schultz sings of how he wishes that the girl could’ve found a reason to stay with him. All Schultz wants is peace of mind from this girl; however, every time he has free time (often when he is smoking a cigarette), he finds his mind wandering back to this old failed relationship.

In conclusion, Cage the Elephant’s Melophobia is a very diverse album, with many different stories contained in rhythms just as out there. The stories range from singing of a failed relationship with a soft acoustic guitar rift, to a heavy guitar rift and a song about feeling the beats of a song in your teeth. It is no surprise that this was Cage The Elephant’s most successful album.

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