Cage the Elephant's album cover for "Social Cues"
Arts & Life, Music

Dark emotions uncaged

Cage The Elephant has never been a band that shies away from the unconventional, but their new album reveals another side to them that we may not have been not prepared for.

The alternative rock band released their fifth studio album titled, “Social Cues,” on April 19. Their  latest work prior to this album was the 2017 release of “Unpeeled,”which consisted of live recordings of old songs and three covers. Before that their previous studio album, “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” came out in 2015.

Cage The Elephant has achieved superstar status over the years, proven by the many festivals they have headlined, and it appears that they have become comfortable in their own skin.

The sound of the album is somber, dark, gothic and melancholy, yet familiar. Although divorce and death are new topics for Cage The Elephant, the actual music stays relatively similar to the classic CTE style that we are accustomed to. Guitar, electric bass and keys are still the main identifiers for the rock band.

The first single for the album was “Ready To Let Go,” which was released Jan. 31 along with a music video that was directed by lead vocalist Matt Shultz.

The most prominent theme in this long-awaited album is that of lost love and burnout. The dark theme is due to Shultz’s recent divorce coupled with the death of his cousin.

The album kicks off with “Broken Boy,” an uptempo guitar and bass driven song that prepares listeners for the electricity about to penetrate eardrums. It sets the story of Shultz having a chip on his shoulder.

Standouts include “Social Cues,” “Dance Dance” and “Tokyo Smoke.” “Dance Dance” is a song that alludes a 1970s vibe. “Tokyo Smoke” has the catchiness that could’ve made it a single.

The album contains a good mix of slow and fast songs that keep it from moving too fast for those who listen to entire albums all in one go, and it gives a good selection of different music for those who like to pick songs off an album.

Something different about the album is the collaboration with Beck on “Night Running.” At first listen, it may sound out of place. But after a few more plays, listeners will start grooving to the reggae-esque bass line.

The song “Goodbye.” finishes the album with a send off in the last lines’ lyrics: “It’s alright, goodbye, goodbye.” The final lyrics gives listeners the feeling that after the 13-song album, Shultz has gotten closure and has moved past what he was dealing with.

What we are getting with this album is a view into the life of one of the last real rock bands going through life. Most of the songs were written, while on the road during their extensive tours. Rocking is a lifestyle. They are living it everyday and have been for more than 10 years.

Cage The Elephant have a 2019 tour lined up beginning in June, where they will be co-headlining with Beck, and will be playing many festivals including Shaky Knees and Woodstock 50.

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