Cage The Elephant have made a name for themselves with an indie folk-rock sound with tracks like “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” and “Cigarette Daydreams.” The band’s fourth studio album, 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, was largely well received, with the single “Trouble” proving the band’s ability to write indie hits. Four years later, the Kentucky natives have released their fifth studio album Social Cues.
This new release marks a darker period of Cage The Elephant’s discography. With a heavy 80s new wave and post-punk influence, the album is filled with heavy bass lines, hard-hitting drums, and vocal effects. The album makes good use of the post-punk influence with tracks like “Glass House,” a fast-paced, anxiety-filled track that talks of isolation, and the album’s title track “Social Cues.”
However, many of the band’s attempt of a darker sound falls short, like in the track “The War Is Over.” While the album has some great writing, some tracks fall incredibly short, sounding like they could have been meant for an Imagine Dragons song. The prime example of this is the album’s fifth track, “Skin and Bones.” The lyrics are cheesy and uninspired, with a melody that has been overused by pop-rock bands. The album’s high energy almost makes up for those tracks’ lyrics, but in tracks like “What I’m Becoming” the lyrics are paired with slow, repetitive, and bland instrumentals that make it one of the most skippable tracks of the album.
That’s not to say the album doesn’t have great slow moments. Tracks “Love Is The Only Way” and “Goodbye” are stripped back and washed in dreamy reverb. They also manage to do something missing from most tracks on the album, find their way out. The majority of the album’s tracks end abruptly in a lazy way that doesn’t pay off for the listener. This further emphasizes the fractured feeling the record puts out.
Cage The Elephant came back after four years with a very average release, with as many low moments as high ones.
Score: 6.5 / 10
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