You’ve Got To Hear This: Social Cues – Cage the Elephant

Author: Jorge Ramos

The new album of the Kentucky band Cage the Elephant was more eagerly awaited than the next NFL season, and the guys didn’t disappoint. The group has thrown at us an insane production, which took them 4 years to come up with, but it was totally worth it.

And they gave us a perfect taste of what it was going to be with the Singles, Ready to Let Go, and Goodbye, to mention two of them. The have blown our mind and surely of the fans as well and the collaborations with artists like Beck spiced it up.

The burden of fame

From the get-go you can tell is a sad album with a variety of shades and tones of gray through it all. In the first couple of songs you feel the disbelieve they try to portray, showing that the author is already tired of fame and how claims to feel “forced to live in this skin”, “born on the wrong side of the train tracks”. Broken Boy starts to drag us down into the despair of the narrator.

The message it’s clear in Social Cues the second song of the album, with the same name, and is a continuation on the “being famous is not as cool” vibe. With more 80’s like music Shultz talks about how his face’s having 2 persona’s, the public one, and the private one. A message that the vocalist has expressed already in one of his recent interviews.

In Night Running we meet with that life that takes place and that has swallowed many of our favorite artists. All the glamour and the party portrayed with phrases like “all night running, star-studded, I’m not far from it”.

Almost at the end of the song gives us a clearer message saying, “Not telling you who we’re running from in a world of secrets and demons, and people hiding from the sun”. We see here a higher tempo (as mentioned, featuring Beck) that drives you and acts like a bridge to the next song.

In Skin and Bones the message doesn’t vary, tiredness, giving it all no matter what, with phrases like “All that’s left is skin and bones, close my eyes fight to carry on”. We are not halfway through the album and bound to deep us in his mind and emotional state of the moment.

The divorce

From now on we find the singles that were first released, and take a turn even sadder, but with the characteristic mysticism and intensity that Shultz can give to his emotions.

Ready to Let Go, one of the singles, talks about the trip to Pompeii that made Shultz and his ex-wife realize that they were done with each other. In the most rocker-ish version possible talks about not having control of the situation, and that “we knew this day was coming” the guitar riffs and powerful vocals makes us rock out to this banger.

With a Goth-ish sound we find ourselves jamming to House Of Glass, the song it’s a Roller Coaster within itself, in the start he clearly faults himself for his situation “Climb into the corner, my self-inflicted coma”. And then touches in two proverbs about not pointing out flaws in others that we also have, “Black Kettle” and “House Of Glass”. He also mentions once again the isolation that obfuscates him.  

We cannot fight it and it’s the main subject in both Love’s the Only Way and The War Is Over. Love, and how, to the narrator, can beat anything, and is everywhere. In the first one we have it expressed in quite a difficult note for Shultz, and it’s accompanied with a soft set of strings, and no distortion on the guitar. Whilst in the latter, we have a groovier vibe, with a hype drum beat and synths that’ll make you bob your head in the chorus.

The inevitability of the separation sinks and drowns our singer’s heart again in What I’m Becoming and take us back to the feelings he displayed for us in Ready to Let Go. Although in this occasion is being expressed in more of a present tense and seems to be depicting the same exact moment in a more introspect mode. The violins have a lighter effect in this song than the previous, but just shows how the band likes to play around with the sounds. Reminds you of The Last Shadow Puppet if you needed that reference to get the song.

Tokyo Smoke tries to get us moving with its fast pace, before we reach the climax of the album. Goodbye, as the title depicts, is the perfect breakup song, an absolute banger. The piano and Shultz’s voice are just filled with emotions that are only surpassed when the chorus is sung with a “Goodbye, I won’t cry/God knows how hard we’ve tried”.

The second verse hits us with “I want to find somewhere that’s hard to find/Stop wasting my time trying to shape your life”, and in the bridge he asks her “How’d I become the thorn on your side? and your laughter turned into cry”. A perfect ending to a magnificent piece to add right now to our “Sad Playlist”, and to finish the trip that Shultz took us through in one of probably the hardest moments of his life.

The Reviews

Social Cues has received mixed reviews from critics. While some of them accuse the band of not moving from their comfort zone, Rolling Stone instead gives the album 4 out of 5 stars and says it is a great album about battling ‘Rockstar fatigue’. Meanwhile, Metacritic also regards highly the song collection, with a user score of 8.3/10.

For more content and info about the band, as well as tour dates look over here .

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