Cage the Elephant, the Bowling Green, Kentucky-based rockers who now reside in our very own Nashville, released their first original song since 2015 on Jan. 31: “Ready to Let Go.” The band also revealed the album title, Social Cues, a track list comprised of thirteen songs and an eccentrically intriguing music video for “Ready to Let Go.”
“Ready to Let Go” is the first new material from the band in over three years, with the exception of Unpeeled, a compilation of existing Cage the Elephant songs and covers performed live at concerts (including one at The Ryman) accompanied by a string orchestra. Equally significant is the fact that Social Cues was recorded in part in Nashville, reinforcing our “Music City” moniker in a major way.
Like Cage’s previous LP Tell Me I’m Pretty, this single treads further away from the exhilarating garage rock of their earlier albums, instead embracing a more refined, introspective, and self-assured approach to Rock ’n’ Roll. This theme in increasingly refined rock and alternative music is certainly not limited to Cage the Elephant (à la Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino or The Killers’ Wonderful Wonderful), but they seamlessly deliver their own spin on this genre-wide shift.
Cage maintains their personal brand of avant-garde symbolism with a rather absurdist music video for “Ready to Let Go” directed by frontman Matt Shultz. Both artistic and unsettling, the music video subverts traditional marriage imagery of the aisle to an altar and the wedding cake, instead rendering such imagery bleak and perhaps even nefarious. Cinematographically, much of the lighting is rather shadowed, and black-and-white footage of the band is juxtaposed with a striking red color scheme invoking blood-like imagery. When the music video is viewed in tangent with the song, the intriguingly bizarre characterizing of much of Cage’s offerings remains pronounced.
“Ready to Let Go” is musically comparable to much of Tell Me I’m Pretty, yet the lyrical themes presented in the song are largely uncharted territory for the band, especially for a lead single. The song abounds with pangs of regret and despondent acceptance in a strikingly personal manner. Emotionally speaking, this may very well be one of the band’s most profound songs. With such other titles included in the track list as “Broken Boy” and “Goodbye,” “Ready to Let Go” will likely not be the last of these candidly emotional songs. It is reasonable to think that Social Cues will offer an unprecedented depth to the Cage the Elephant discography, and the intertwining between this sentimentality and the avant-garde Rock ’n’ Roll for which the band is best known should be highly compelling. Social Cues will be released April 19.