Neon Pill

rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. HiFi (True Light)
02. Rainbow
03. Neon Pill
04. Float Into The Sky
05. Metaverse
06. Out Loud
07. Ball and Chain
08. Good Time
09. Shy Eyes
10. Silent Picture
11. Same
12. Over Your Shoulder

CAGE THE ELEPHANT broke out in the 2010s, a time when alternative rock was trying to find its identity and separate itself from heavier styles of rock, such as post-grunge and nu-metal. The band was among the alt-rock heroes of the decade, bringing a refreshing pop and indie-focused sound to the alternative game.

A bit later than on the scene some of their contemporaries, CAGE THE ELEPHANT's debut arrived in 2008. It was worth the wait, though, and the band blew up, thanks to the single, "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked".

Now, CAGE THE ELEPHANT have returned with a new album, "Neon Pill". The set marks their follow-up to 2019's "Social Cues". Their first post- pandemic release, "Neon Pill"'s gritty garage-rock fits consistently in with the band's sound.

Kicking off the album, "Hifi (True Light)" is a straight-ahead alt-rock jam with fuzzy guitars, distorted vocals and a breezy melody. It's an upbeat way to start the record and has a tropical vibe that makes it a good summer song. "Rainbow" follows with a similar summer indie vibe, but it's slower and pretty mellow. Here, Matt Shultz sings about someone who lifts him up when he's down and says he needs their touch each day.

The album's title track "Neon Pill", as well as "Metaverse", are fuzzy indie rock songs with funky beats. These songs have some similarity to bands such as THE KILLERS and THE STRUTS but certainly have their own character. "Float into the Sky" is a dreamy alt-pop number with woolly riffs and trippy textures. Elsewhere, "Good Time" features some moving rhyming from Shultz, and "Silent Picture" has a tuneful, BEATLES-like melody. The album closes with the acoustic "Over Your Shoulder", which offers a good dose of variety on the set, with a slow groove and strong melody.

While "Neon Pill" is a modern album, musically, it's very retro, embracing sounds from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Throughout the album, Shultz is passionate without sounding over the top, which is a good fit for the band's low-fi backings. "Neon Pill" is a blend of trademark CAGE THE ELEPHANT along with sounds that span different eras of music. Its hooky, melodic nature fits the CAGE THE ELEPHANT aura.

Author: Anne Erickson
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