Updated: May 16, 2020
Released over a year ago on January 31, 2019, Social Cues by Cage the Elephant deserves a revisit. The album received a lukewarm reception on its release, peaking at #21 on the US Billboard Charts, which was the highest it charted in any country. Critics were all across the board on its quality upon release, and while this album will fade with time, many of the songs on it will stay with us.
It is unlikely you’ve listened to the album in its entirety, but there is a good chance that you’ve heard a few songs off of it. Also, if you’ve seen it, the album cover has likely stuck in your mind for its bizarre, yet simple subject matter. There is something so straightforward about it, but the more you look, the more it loses any logical explanation and you begin to ask questions like "Is that cotton candy or shaving cream?" Much like the cover art, the album plays like a successful band not sure where to go next. Do they stick to where they’ve been, or venture into unknown territory? Cage the Elephant solidified their spot in music history early with enthralling live shows and one of the best debut albums ever, the eponymous Cage the Elephant, so it’s no wonder that they’d struggle to find what comes next.
The main reason this album has grown on me lately is that a good chunk of the bands biggest hits from their catalogue come from this album alone. "Ready to Let Go", "Social Cues", "Broken Boy" (check out the version with Iggy Pop for the right way to do a remix Lil Nas X…), and "Black Madonna" which just had a music video release this month.
Yes, there are filler songs such as the tame love inspired "The War Is Over" and "Love’s the Only Way" which feels like a lackluster attempt to recreate the magic of "Rubber Ball" off Thank you, Happy Birthday. Even so, there are gems you’d miss out on such as "Dance Dance" (not to be confused with the Fallout Boy song) and the glistening "Goodbye". "House of Glass" feels like it would fit nicely on any Pixies or Sonic Youth album. There’s also "Night Running" that guest stars indie darling Beck on vocals. Overall, you’ll hear a band that has hit their stride, but is starting to question if this is all they are, and all that they’ll become.
Rating – 7.2/10