Caging ‘Social Cues’


by Juliana Kulak ’20

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite band is Cage The Elephant; for my 14th birthday, my parents got me tickets to their show at the Spring Fling Tour held at the XL Center, which I arrived about two hours early for just so I could get front row (it was worth it).

My parents the next year bought me tickets to the music festival Boston Calling primarily because Cage The Elephant was performing.

Since their fifth studio album “Tell Me I’m Pretty” debuted in 2015 I’ve been restlessly waiting for another album. After what seemed like forever, their newest album “Social Cues” dropped on April 16, and it was worth the wait.

“Social Cues” is a 13 track LP that holds true to Cage The Elephant’s style, while also adding in entirely new elements of synth and an 80’s rock feel.

The first song of the album is titled “Broken Boy.” It starts off with ominous synth, before adding in a rapid and banging drum.

The song then kicks off into what sounds like a dark surf rock guitar riff. “Broken Boy” is classic abrasive rock song about a boy being from the wrong side of the tracks.

The distortion and fuzzy sound gives it an unpolished and grungy sound that makes it weirdly empowering. This was the perfect song to kick off the album as it hypes up the listener for the music to come.

The title track “Social Cues” reigns the album in a little. It’s a slower paced, less hard hitting song that has a melancholic tone.

The psychedelic mellotron synth that plays in the instrumental molds well with the heavy bass. Schultz’s vocals are muted as he sings about the anxiety and isolation that comes with fame.

His voice is despondent as he sings, “I’ll be in the back room, tell me when it’s over/People always say, ‘Man, at least you’re on the radio,’”

The track shares the same theme as a lot of music produced by artists that have achieved stardom and reminds me of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” off of “The Wall.” “Social Cues” is beautifully sad and leaves the listener wanting to just give Schultz a hug.

“Night Running” featuring Beck was one of the singles released to promote the album and it definitely is one of Cage The Elephant’s more experimental songs. “Night Running” has a dub-reggae sound and has an other worldly feel.

It brings up a theme that is consistent throughout the album: running away.

“House of Glass” is definitely a stand out track on Social Cues. The tone is both frantic and blasé as Cage The Elephant combines panicked bass and guitar with subdued vocals.

This song radiates bad vibes as Schultz sings about the monotony of life, hypocrisy, and isolation, though despite the depressing topics this doom and gloom song is a banger.

“Social Cues” is nothing like Cage The Elephant has ever released, which is exactly their style.

Every album explores new avenues and sounds as they mature as artists. “Social Cues” is filled with songs that range from gritty to dream-like and leaves the audience wanting more.