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Sound Check

12/23/2015

Cage the ElephantCage the Elephant
“Tell Me I’m Pretty”
Sony

The title pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the album. Cage the Elephant’s entire career has seemed to be one long attempt to get you to really, really like them. And it is not like the guys are bad musicians or that the music is poor. Rather, the problem is that the band is trying so hard to tap into whatever it is it thinks you like that they are overly blatant in their influences. Songs like opening track “Cry Baby” do not simply say, “We like Tame Impala, and you can kind of hear it here.” Instead, they grab you by the lapels and shout, “You like Tame Impala, right? We can do that!” In the end, “Tell Me I’m Pretty” comes off as a well-made, good-sounding, almost completely forgettable album. CV

R. KellyR Kelly
“The Buffet”
RCA

Are people bored of R. Kelly’s schtick yet? We get it: You like sex. But the problem here is that Kelly has turned increasingly less subtle and more juvenile in his attempts to sing about it. What were once harmless, relatively clever forays into sexy R&B have devolved over the years, and what we are left with is a grown man talking about “marrying the pussy.” “The Buffet” does not raise the bar, as Kelly seems to continue his efforts to make us all forget that he was the same man who produced songs like “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Bump ‘n’ Grind.” Where the latter was clearly about sex, all of its artistry and nuance has been stripped bare in “The Buffet,” leaving us with a crass, meaningless album that does not even have the common decency to see the joke in itself. CV

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