The sound of words is almost as important as their void, when the instruments stand alone. Cage the Elephant is a formation who, since the debut, has intertwined those two elements with ability. Social Cues, the fifth album of the band, starts from an established sound and fills it up with the rhythm of lyrics, navigating change with character.
The overall sensation is a unity of differences, a cohesive work in terms of style. This smooth result does not enchant but neither misses the point, allowing variety and musical contamination in the alternative realm.
Cage the Elephant seem to understand the present and, doing so, also look at the future. “Tokyo Smoke” impersonates this mood, starting electric and then mixing the guitars with a few, visionary, synth-based digressions.
At times the band also finds the formula for radio friendly alt-rock. It is the case of the single “Ready To Let Go”, which still stands in a specific niche, but tries to make it bigger. Similarly, “Social Cues”, “Black Madonna”, and “House Of Glass” strike and flow, being indie but also aiming at a larger reach.
The post-reggae of “Night Running” is a collaboration with Beck, and dubs around with quality. “Dance Dance” adds a twist, some lateral thinking on a trend getting more and more common, in a sort of unspoken alt-disco contest.
In the second half of Social Cues, Cage the Elephant embark on a few walks of slower songwriting. At this emotion-oriented, almost contemplative corner we can stumble upon the rhythmically rhymed ballad “Love’s the Only Way”. It keeps retro in the refrain and, together with “What I’m Becoming”, displays feelings and lucid melancholy. “Goodbye” is also bending towards sadness and closes up the record on a lower tone. Carrying a metaphor, going back to a “ripple in the folds of time”, and then dissolving as only absence does.