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Cage The Elephant dominates once again

Adam Shay

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When an album’s first lyrics start with, “I was born on the wrong side of the train tracks,” complimented by an up-beat groove, distorted riffs and rapid drumming, “Broken Boy” is the start of an exhilarating ride. Since Social Cues is the fifth studio album from Cage the Elephant, what else would anyone expect?

In a vastly different manner from Tell Me I’m Pretty, their fourth studio album from 2015, yet a completely recognizable sound, Cage the Elephant produces another potential Grammy winner album spanning 13 songs. As the band released three singles (“Ready To Let Go,” House of Glass,” and “Night Running”) before the April 19 release date, any song on Social Cues could have been a high-praised single, destined to be overplayed on any alternative radio station. 

The whole demeanor of the album is refreshing, a sigh of relief, and a collection of tracks to make an audience remember the band’s beautiful authenticity. Ranging from the alternative-reggae bop “Night Running,” featuring the charismatic Beck, to a somber and remorseful “Goodbye,” there isn’t a sluggish song on Social Cues. It’s Cage the Elephant at their purest form: a free playing, no-strings-attached, grade A alternative rock music.

Through 44 minutes of emphatic loveliness, there’s a beautiful contrast between the techno-driven rhythms and love-lost lyrics. Every album has inspiration, and in a saddened connotation, lead singer Matthew Schultz expresses sorrow as his marriage began to weaken. Numerous songs exemplify his pain, more specifically, “What I’m Becoming,” including the lyrics, “I’m so sorry honey…for what I’m becoming.” The regretful and organ driven music vibrates throughout a relatable fan.

The album concludes with, “Goodbye,” their most beautiful song to date. With a career spanning over a decade, it’s difficult to find another song to tug on emotions as well the 13th track does. The lyrics, “I want to hide somewhere that’s hard to find,” followed by repeated goodbye’s and “I won’t cry…Lord knows how hard we tried,” is captivating. 

Social Cues carries over some traits from their flawless 2017 live album Unpeeled, a stripped down set featuring an array of string instruments. “What I’m Becoming” includes a melodic string section, as does the eighth track on the album “Love’s The Only Way,” and both infuse violins peacefully. 

Nevertheless, the album produces a variety of late-night driving music, songs to belt when nobody is watching. “House of Glass” is a high octane jam, showcasing the incredulous drumming from Jared Champion and electronic riffs from Nick Bockrath. “Tokyo Smoke” is a disoriented, space-oddity thrill ride, transfixed on drug fumes and head bobbing. On an album filled with wonderful ‘tunage’, “Tokyo Smoke” could go overlooked as a top song on Social Cues.

After a four year break of releasing new music, Social Cues is a statement to the music industry: Cage the Elephant is still one of America’s top musical talent. The album is 10/10 and a must hear for all past, present, and future fans. 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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