Album Notes - Cage the Elephant - Social Cues

Dispatches from the Highlands

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The ascendancy of Cage the Elephant continues to amaze me. They’ve certainly come a long way since 2008’s extremely Beck-like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” As the Kentucky crew keeps pumping out quality tunes, each album deservedly earns them a bigger audience. I was downright bewildered when I checked their tour dates. Not because the sextet would be traversing the country to promote an album—it would be shocking for an artist not to—but by the placement of their name as co-headliners. With Beck. In 20,000+ capacity amphitheaters across the country. 

Throughout their career Cage the Elephant has successfully done the nimble dance of retaining their sound while avoiding a rehash. They’re still a rock band through and through, and on Social Cues they successfully straddle the high wire act between being polished but not too slick. The opening “Broken Boy” harkens back to the early days. The title track following it up could provide a preview of the group’s future. 

Their fifth album also doubles as their darkest, revealed no clearer than in songs like “Goodbye” and “House of Glass.” After winning the Grammy for Best Rock Album (for 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty), they’ve followed it up with a record reflecting the trappings of newfound success and the ills, whether intentional or not, that come along with it. Matt Shultz, singer and recent latex cowboy aficionado, penned his most cohesive, thematic lyrics, resulting from the death of multiple close friends and the dissolution of his marriage. It may not be the group’s best album, but on Social Cues, we undoubtedly know why this caged elephant sings.

 

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