By Neil Manning
Artist: Cage The Elephant
Album: Social Cue
Release Date: April 19, 2019
Label: RCA Records
Cage The Elephant (CTE) has released Social Cues, their first full album of new music since 2016. Their last album, Unpeeled, had live versions of their songs along with some new covers. Social Cues goes back to some of their earlier sounds, while still maintaining the steps of the more pop route they have been taking as a band.
The album opens up with “Broken Boy,” a strong lead into the album. High energy and very tight perfectly describes this song. The drums and vocals are both sharp and cut into your ears, pairing perfectly with the guitar that comes and goes, but do just enough for the song. It gets your mood up and ready for the rest of the album.
The title track follows, and doesn’t really do anything special. It’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t really challenge the listener. The third track “Black Madonna” however, is one of the strongest points on the album. It immediately begins with a drum beat that slowly speeds up, letting you know this song will stand out. Matt Schultz’s vocals have a bit of a fuzz effect that complements the song writing and melody well. The lead guitar also uses a similar interesting effect that brings the whole song together.
Halfway through the album, a string intro starts that is a bit jarring compared to the typical garage sounds that the album has had thus far. “Love’s The Only Way” is a very personal and intimate song that consists primarily of a subtle electric guitar that is played behind Schultz’s vocals. The echo effects on his voice take away from the beauty of this song. The elegance would shine more with straighter vocals, and more harmonies. This song is still one that stands out more than some of the others on this album. You can tell it is personal and you feel it in every line.
In contrast to “Love’s The Only Way,” CTE perfectly executes some vocal effects on “Dance Dance.” This track has a catchy melody that gets your head bobbing, foot tapping and body moving. The song is aptly named and makes you want to dance with a good mix of verses that start with hard breaks, and then going to more sentences that flow into each other a bit more. The drums keep a solid beat that doesn’t do too much, while still staying engaging.
In the finale, we get another intimate song, “Goodbye.” A reflective song that ends the album well, perfectly putting a close to the previous 12 tracks. While the lyrics and vocals are the main focal point, the instrumentation does its jobs and helps build up the hope and sadness that this song conveys.
Overall, this album is a step up from Tell Me I’m Pretty, but doesn’t reach the potential CTE has. The best way to listen to this album is in its entirety to get the full context of each song within their place. It’s a solid album, but leaves you wanting more through out.