Cage The Elephant’s new album “Social Cues” was released April 19, four years after their latest studio album, “Tell Me I’m Pretty.” Since it was first announced on Jan. 31, the album has been highly anticipated by both long-time and more recent fans of the London-based rock group. Upon its release, the album did not disappoint, utilizing a haunting lo-fi sound combined with the band’s indie and punk roots.
“Social Cues” is Cage The Elephant’s fifth studio album. It follows the success of “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” which was awarded a Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2017. The award was not unexpected, as the group’s third album, “Melophobia,” was nominated for a Grammy as Best Alternative Music Album in 2015. After the success of their previous albums, expectations were high for “Social Cues.”
Although the album takes on a darker tone when compared to its predecessors, “Social Cues” is still undeniably rooted in Cage The Elephant’s style and history. The album itself has been widely interpreted as a response to the recent divorce between the lead singer and songwriter Matt Schultz and his now ex-wife Juliette Buchs. The divorce could be seen as one of the factors that led to a change in the band’s tone. Another possible reason for the shift is the increased popularity of the group that accompanied their fourth album.
One thing that has ensured the consistency of Cage The Elephant’s songs is their unique and self-reflective vocals. Schultz’s voice is immediately recognizable when listening to the album’s first song, “Broken Boy.” Although reminiscent of the group’s previous rock album, the song also shares similarities with their older, more punk-inspired works.
Other notable songs include “Ready to Let Go” and “Skin and Bones,” which bring to mind their self-titled first album’s hit song, “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” with their angsty and more upbeat tone. Slower songs like “Love’s The Only Way” and “Goodbye” are similar to their contemplative and mournful songs, like “Too Late To Say Goodbye” and “How Are You True” off their fourth album, “Tell Me I’m Pretty.” While many songs seem very similar to past creations, there are several times that the album departs from this familiarity to experiment with a new style and possibly attract a new audience.
One song that represents a definite stylistic transition is “Night Running,” which is a faster-paced, repetitive song that features an appearance by Beck. The song seems unlike many others in the album and shows a shift in the group’s style from punk and rock into a more upbeat, rap-inspired sound. This song is one of the more experimental tracks on the album.
As a whole, “Social Cues” seems to be an exploration in Cage The Elephant’s genre and tone while still holding true to their original iconic sound.The album is a good combination of experimental songs and songs that call back to group’s previous musical identity. At a time when many artists are experimenting with completely new unique soundscapes, it is a refreshing reminder that although time passes and trends in music change, there are bands still willing to expand upon the sound that their fans are familiar with.
Cage The Elephant will begin The Night Running Tour with Beck July 11 and perform in Camden, New Jersey Aug.21.