Cage The Elephant’s lead singer Matt Schultz, embraces his stages of grief through this album, enduring a divorce in his creative process. They revealed a glimpse of this in the comeback, angry single “Ready to Let Go” and the darker, teeth-grinding “House of Glass”—but that was only a taste of an emotional post-relationship journey.
Social Cues isn’t entirely melancholic. The alternative band starts by kicking the doors down through their 60s head-banging Garageband vibes in “Broken Boy” and “Social Cues.” The track “Skin and Bones” denies the situation, with the lyrics “close my eyes/fight to carry on/sometimes it makes no sense at all/if I stumble will I fall.” Cage The Elephant touches a psychedelic aesthetic similar to MGMT in “Black Madonna” and sways side-to-side with Beck in the reggae sounding “Night Running.”
Schultz bargains in “What I’m Becoming,” an apologetic confession, slowly sung as if he’s sitting right in front of you. Social Cues finishes with acceptance in “The War is Over” and “Goodbye.” The lyrics “Lord knows how hard we tried/goodbye goodbye goodbye,”—apparently sung in one take while lying on the studio floor—gives you a feeling like the end credits are rolling after a sad film.