There really ain’t no rest for the wicked: Cage the Elephant’s ‘Social Cues’
Cage the Elephant have dominated indie-rock across the decade since releasing their debut album in 2008, featuring the popular song Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked (which gamer fans might recognise from the Borderlands franchise). They’ve since cemented their sound with a grand mix of blues, indie and a decidedly vintage horror aesthetic, culminating in their fifth and latest LP Social Cues; their most personal and sprawling effort to date.
Cage the Elephant burst straight into the ring, going from strength to strength, with the first three songs grabbing you with memorable hooks; especially Black Madonna, possessing one of the album’s best singalong choruses. Following into Night Runner, tour-mate Beck lends his genius wordplay to the verses of a song already dominated by heavy bass and a chunky chorus to culminate in one of the album’s most promisingly commercial cuts.
Dark tones of horror exude the ethos of the album, most notably in the creepy vocal delivery from lead singer Matt Shultz on House of Glass. The surprising strings of Love’s The Only Way follows, with the weary breathing of Shultz crackling through the wall of sound as if from an old radio, passing into a drearily sad singalong that appears to have come straight from the heart.
Lead single Ready To Let Go is the highlight of the album and is one of the best songs that Cage the Elephant have produced yet. Based on the true events of the disintegration of Matt Shultz’s marriage while he and his wife were on holiday in Pompeii, the song’s lyrics invoke devastating imagery of this split transforming Shultz into a ‘statue’ like those mummified by the eruption of Vesuvius, causing him to philosophically wonder whether we are all ‘just a puff of smoke’ in the end.
Social Cues closes with the first Cage the Elephant song that has the power to bring you to tears, entitled Goodbye. What better way to send off an album that is equal parts heartbreak and horror than with a song that could make you singalong while in the midst of tears.