Cage The Elephant is back with ‘Social Cues’

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Cage The Elephant is back with ‘Social Cues’

Cage the Elephant's latest album is called

Cage the Elephant's latest album is called "Social Cues"

Cage the Elephant's latest album is called "Social Cues"

Cage the Elephant's latest album is called "Social Cues"

Christopher Bird, Contributor

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I’ve been a big fan of Cage The Elephant ever since I heard “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” when I was younger, which is a common starting point for many who follow the band. Their album Melophobia is soundly in my top five favorite albums, making Cage The Elephant one of my favorite bands.

Despite feeling such a positive way about the group, I’ve always felt that their projects other than “Melophobia” never really gripped me enough to want to listen to a whole collection or album in one sitting more than a few times. “Melophobia” was an album that tried some new things, added instruments that aren’t present in other works by the band, and even though it wasn’t flawless I found those things drew me into the album and made me learn to love it. It felt different, and its unique qualities made me a fan.

With “Social Cues,” Cage The Elephant is branching out a bit once again. The album brings in more electronic sounds, and even a feature with Beck, which does a great job of giving some new life to the band’s sound without straying too far from their own established style.

The album has the feel of an emotional confession of the trouble one can face while navigating their way through life. “Broken Boy” starts the album off with an upbeat piece about feeling out of place in the world. It’s a strong start, and it sets the tone in a sense for the topic of the album. The feel of the song is somewhat punk and even though the title sounded a bit cliché to me, they pull it off well and bring a lot of energy right off the bat.

The project does a good job of keeping on topic and carrying the momentum of the first track forward as the album progresses. “Social Cues,” the song the album is named after, is my favorite for sure. It is a great showcase for the synth that the band had brought into this project and it has a nostalgic feel that I can’t quite put my finger on. It makes the song feel good, and it is just another quality addition to the strong instrumentals throughout Cage The Elephant’s work.

The low points of the album for me were definitely the parts that Cage The Elephant seemed to lean on techniques they have used often in the past. There were several songs like “Black Madonna” and “House of Glass” where they used a style of talk singing which makes the singer sound much less emotional.

This may have been good if that was the style of the whole song, but the choruses were much more emotional and made it a bit jarring to go back and forth between the styles. Similarly, the song “Ready to Let Go” had a good feel and lyrics, but felt like classic Cage The Elephant, which I have heard plenty times before.

“Night Running” is a great example of the band trying new things and really succeeding. They brought Beck in to collaborate with them and ended up with an interesting song. It has a reggae vibe, and beck’s singing mixed in with Cage The Elephant’s singer Matt Schultz creates some good pace changes throughout the song. I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed this collaborative piece.

Overall, the album succeeds in incorporating some new electronic sounds and has a strong theme that can be found in almost every song. The song “Dance Dance” is off theme somewhat, but serves as a nice upbeat and less serious song that creates a break before some heavier songs follow it. The project finishes strong with “Goodbye,” a sad and reflective song about the regrets left by a relationship ending despite the singer’s desire to make his partner happy, and the sting of being unable to do so.

The main problems the album has is repetitiveness. In the sense that many of the songs have a great deal of time dedicated their choruses and that Cage The Elephant seems to continue to use some established styles and techniques that we have seen from them before.

I find it easy to forgive this, however, because they are so unique as a band and have even taken greater steps to differentiate themselves with this project.

The fact that they have largely succeeded in their efforts is just icing on this unexpected cake, and I can say that after many listens I believe this is my new favorite Cage The Elephant album.