100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #17: “Come a Little Closer” by Cage the Elephant

The song at #17 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Come a Little Closer” by Cage the Elephant. The third song by the Nashville band on this list (“Trouble” ranks at #78 and “Social Cues” at #30), “Come a Little Closer” is my favorite song by them. Released in August 2013, the song is from their superb third album Melophobia, and was a huge hit on the Billboard Alternative and Adult Alternative charts, spending many weeks at #1 on both.

Though the word “melophobia” literally means “fear of music”, in an interview with American Songwriter, band front man Matt Schultz said “it wasn’t necessarily an actual fear of music, but a fear of making music to project premeditated images of self rather than being an honest communicator.” The band essentially wanted to go outside their comfort zone with the album. He was inspired to write “Come a Little Closer” one morning after watching the sunrise from his hotel room in Sao Paulo. As he looked out over the favelas, he wondered what each soul living within those crowded neighborhoods felt, whether it be heartache, love, loss or joy, and decided to write a song about the concept of looking at things more closely.

Musically, the song is a magnificent psychedelic trip, with endless melodic twists and turns that keep us on the edge of our seats, wondering what’s coming next. The instrumentals are fantastic, with a wonderful bass line and highlighted by an intriguing surf guitar that erupts into a wailing barrage in the choruses, with Shultz fervently urging us “Come a little closer, then you’ll see. Come on, come on, come on“. The wonderful psychedelic video, which was conceived and directed by Matt Schultz, shows the band on a sort of magical mystery tour, performing and traveling amidst a colorful and surreal animated world filled with monsters and wild animals.