Cage The Elephant
Social Cues


3.5
great

Review

by neekafat CONTRIBUTOR (55 Reviews)
May 3rd, 2019 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tell me I'm back

For a while now, Cage the Elephant have felt like they’re caught in between sounds. Each album they’ve released recently (perhaps ever) has felt restless, eager to move on even before whatever it’s doing has been done. This is why even in its plainness I found some vague comfort in their previous album, Tell Me I’m Pretty. It was easily their weakest offering, but in a way it was the most assured they’d sounded in their own shoes since their debut, offering a solid foundation that they easily could’ve built off of.

Maybe that’s why it’s so disappointing that Social Cues returns to that scattershot style of yore, continuing to throw jaunty pop-rock songs of varying quality and substance at the wall without hanging around to see what sticks. There’s certainly an admirable abandon to this approach that impresses, despite the fact that the flow is so nonexistent that I regularly had to check my phone to make sure I hadn’t accidentally set it to shuffle. The transitions seem to purposefully wreck its own few tender moments, such was when it crashes the jagged gentleness of ballad “Love’s the Only Way” against the flamboyant snyth/drum intro of “The War Is Over.”

Many tracks on here have their own unique defining elements, it's just that they’re used in a strangely disinterested way. One can listen through the whole album casually without being surprised, but when one really listens to the sounds presented there’s a serious adventurousness that’s lurking underneath that’s just strangely hard to pinpoint. One knock to this sonic exploration is that while a lot of the instrumentation can be mesmerizing, such as “Black Madonna”’s subtle brandishing of a steel guitar against a string backing, the vocal melodies singer Matt Schultz provides over them are just dreadful. As smooth and vibrant the sound of “Skin and Bones” is, Schultz’s tepid delivery of “Let the love-light guide me home” acts as a pie in the face.

I’m being far too hard on the album. It’s certainly more engaging than Pretty, the best moments like the just plain violent “House of Glass” and mix of surf guitars and distortion found in the opener are given more than enough time to shine even if they cut out just before they threaten to kick into hyper-drive. Between these power-rockers and the moving ballads, its clear that the gray areas here are what fall between the cracks. As it is, Social Cues proves yet again that Cage the Elephant are a good band that can easily craft good tunes just detached enough from reality to make them interesting, but the farther they’re driven to the extremes of their sound, the more convincing they are .



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2019


15518 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is growing on me, quite a few bangers here

House of Glass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1ZYRfK2v3E

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2019


24639 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oooh actually intrigued by this album....will check nice rev

ArtBox
May 2nd 2019


284 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Somehow the songs feel more vibrant but the vocals feel less so. I don't know, not too keen on Matt's singing this time around



Love those wiry guitars on Broken Boy though

Dylan620
May 2nd 2019


4849 Comments


What in blazes is that album cover

Digging: Death - Individual Thought Patterns

Ashtiel
May 2nd 2019


418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

someone's fetish

Digging: Black Mountain - Destroyer

bloc
May 2nd 2019


55437 Comments


This sucks

Digging: Artificial Language - Now We Sleep

SandwichBubble
May 2nd 2019


9612 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Bet this tastes like plastic like the rest of their stuff does.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2019


15518 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Actually dig the cover a bit lmao

Lemme know what you think Con!

Papa Universe
May 3rd 2019


21052 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"returns to that scattershot style of yore"

not much familiar with their previous work; so this is some kind of a return to an old style, you say?



"a strangely disinterested way"

yeah, it did sound like a tired live performance at times.



social POS

Digging: Rammstein - Rammstein

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


15518 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wouldnt say it sounds like their old stuff, but the eclectic mix of styles without much flow is def their forte

Thanks papi!

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2019


24639 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ok finally gonna jam this now ill post my thoughts soon

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2019


24639 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ok almost finished, kind of a letdown but theres like 3 redeemable jams on here and a couple terrible ones. here's the tracks that stuck out to me:

GREAT: broken boy, night running, ready to let go

GOOD: social cues, black madonna, skin and bones, house of glass

OKAY: the war is over, tokyo smoke



the rest didn't really leave an impression on me but Love's the Only Way is TERRIBLE wow...

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2019


15518 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Woah I really like Love's the Only way, the only ones I really wasn't too into were Night Running and Skin and Bones

Glad you like the opener tho, I think it's a bop

FourthReich
May 6th 2019


3765 Comments


Dont bump this

Digging: Bear Hands - Fake Tunes

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2019


24639 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

opener is prob the best song tbh, but yeah idk Love's... so so cheesy and boring to me it was grating to get thru imo. i thought Beck added much needed refreshing vocals because I do agree Matt's usually fell a bit flat on this one

theNateman
May 6th 2019


3643 Comments


Gonna bump this

Digging: Kevin Abstract - ARIZONA BABY

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2019


15518 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

His delivery/vocal melodies are so tired idk. "House of Glass" is def my favorite

SandwichBubble
May 6th 2019


9612 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Not great, but this isn't that bad. Better than that last album

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 6th 2019


30750 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

spinning this now, good review neeka

also that album art is creepy af why do I feel like that cowboy is gonna show up in my nightmares and murder me

Digging: Tyler, the Creator - Igor

SandwichBubble
May 6th 2019


9612 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The year of the cowboy is upon us

and they're hungry.



Apparently band added two members since their last one (I haven't signed up for the Cage the Elephant e-newsletter, pardon me for not knowing that). Could be why this one's close to okay.



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