Cage the Elephant – Unpeeled

Recorded on Cage the Elephant’s “stripped down” Live and Unpeeled tour, with the new sound leading to mixed results.

Album Review by Corrie Innes | 24 Jul 2017
Album title: Unpeeled
Artist: Cage the Elephant
Label: RCA
Release date: 28 Jul

Unpeeled was recorded on Cage the Elephant’s “stripped down” Live and Unpeeled tour, accompanied by a string section. It’s on their newer material, drawn from 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty and 2013’s Melophobia, that this approach proves most interesting; tracks like Punching Bag and Spiderhead gain an urgency and energy they just don’t have on record. Unpeeled gives the impression that these are the songs the way they were meant to sound first time around, breathing new life into tracks which are, to be honest, unremarkable in their original form. 

Three covers make it onto the album. Wreckless Eric’s Whole Wide World is as infectious as the original but sped up slightly and given an injection of euphoric strings. Their reworking of Golden Brown by The Stranglers sounds lovely, but doesn’t really add much to the thousands of other versions out there, and Daft Punk’s Instant Crush is very pretty but a little too close to “overly sincere live-lounge effort” for comfort.

Unpeeled’s problem is that it is too long at 21 tracks, and the band’s new sound only really works on some of their material. Their older work simply doesn’t benefit in the same way. Tracks like Shake Me Down are robbed of their malevolence and power by the sanitised style. That said, Unpeeled shows there’s life yet in the band, and will hopefully give them the confidence to go into the studio and become the British Invasion band they’ve always dreamed of being.

Listen to: Punching Bag, Spiderhead