Review: Social Cues is underwhelming
April 25, 2019
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In an era in which hip-hop and rap have surpassed rock and roll’s influence and popularity, Cage the Elephant is part of small set of bands whose music hearkens back to classic rock and roll. Unfortunately, Cage the Elephant’s fifth album “Social Cues,” is disjointed and underwhelming, with just a few standout songs in an otherwise forgettable lineup.
Inspired by leader singer Matt Shultz’s divorce, “Social Cues” is full of melancholy lyrics and minor chords. Isolation, frustration and betrayal are all reoccurring themes.
“Social Cues” embraces electronic sound effects and synthesizers to a degree which Cage the Elephant never has before, and the result is songs that are cluttered and hard to follow, such as “Broken Boy” and “House of Glass.”
I honestly had to force myself to listen to “Night Running,” a collaboration with Beck, all the way through. I couldn’t stand its clunky use of hip-hop-like rapid fire lyrics and record swirls, or truly bad lyrics. (What does “I got my X-ray eyes and I’m feeling so fine” even mean? Are you Superman?)
“Ready to Let Go” is by far my favorite song of the album, the only song on “Social Cues” which reminds me of Cage the Elephant’s previous songs. Combining catchy lyrics with memorable instrumentals, “Ready to Let Go” describes the breakup of a doomed relationship, with Shultz singing “Don’t you worry baby, no sense trying to change it, I’mma strike these matches never had control.”
I also enjoy “Dance Dance”- a cathartic celebration of living in the moment and partying your troubles away. The track successfully blends electronic effects and instrumentals, and the upbeat tune is belied by its melancholy lyrics as Shultz sings “We’ll all fake it ’til we forget, turn the lights down and keep chasin’.”
“Social Cues” ends on a highly emotional note with “Goodbye,” a song that feels like Shultz is directly addressing his ex-wive as he croons “I wish you well, I want to see you smile, it’s alright, goodbye, goodbye.”
With the noteworthy exceptions of a few individual songs, I found “Social Cues” a disappointing, likely to be forgotten chapter in Cage the Elephant’s otherwise impressive discography.
Alanna Felton is a senior and the Editor-in-Chief of the journalism staff. She is also president and founder of the RHS Young Writers’ Club and an officer...