Cage The Elephant: Social Cues (RCA) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Cage The Elephant

Social Cues


Apr 18, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Cage The Elephant have been on an upward trajectory since their self-titled debut dropped in 2009, leaving a trail of alternative rock hits along the way. Ten years and four studio albums later, the Nashville-based six-piece shows no signs of slowing down. In fact Social Cues continues the skyward trend with a power-packed collection of raucous rhythms, bouncy beats, and rough riffs delivered with an emotional intensity akin to Cherry Glazerr, Wolf Alice, and The Kills.

The band’s strong suit has always been their uncanny ability to construct alluring compositions with raw energy, punk swagger, and pop smarts that all start from a strong melodic framework. And while Social Cues contains copious amounts of their signature buzz-saw guitars and frenetic, energetic vocals, it also shows Cage The Elephant’s willingness to push the envelope and take some chances, although it’s more like coloring outside the lines than it is a brand new drawing.

Opener “Broken Boy” gets the album off to a rousing start, blasting out of the gate with a driving bass line and soaring, screeching guitars. The pace is tempered with the catchy pop hooks of “Social Cues” and “Black Madonna,” whose smooth synth lines show off an older and wiser Cage The Elephant, while the deep slinky bass lines and dub-reggae feel of single “Night Running” (co-written and performed with Beck) is probably the most daring. The seductively smooth “Skin and Bones” rounds out the first five tracks.

But Cage The Elephant are at their best when they maintain their youthful edge and flaunt their prowess of constructing tight rhythms and sumptuous guitar licks into a near flawless indie-rock that can burn the house down yet has a resonant warmth about it that keeps it fresh. Such is the case with highlights, and sure to be hits, “Ready to Let Go” and “House of Glass.”

Social Cues is not without its hiccups, however. Slow-burners “Loves the Only Way,” “What I’m Becoming,” and closer “Goodbye” sidestep the upward trajectory and prove that older and wiser doesn’t always mean better. But these few glitches don’t take away from the fact that Cage The Elephant have proven to be one of the most reliable and entertaining rock bands around and Social Cues has plenty of spectacular music to make it a 2019 Top 10 contender. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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