Album Review: Cage the Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday

Over two years on since their début, what new tricks have Cage the Elephant got in store for listeners?

Cage the Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday

Thank You Happy Birthday cover

RockOSaurus Says:

Cage The Elephant have managed something most people struggle with their entire musical careers…progression! Within their new found angular post-pixies sound are plenty of cracking tunes such as the chest pounding Aberdeen with buckets of feedback fuzz and  chaotic drumming.

Long gone is their restrained blues-by-numbers middle of the road rock which had a couple of memorable moments. In its place are off kilter guitars and urgent indie rock yelped and lashed through their edge teetering vocals and guitars. Their incessant drive for uptempo melodies are perfectly showcased on 2024 with its ramping up riff taking off in spectacular fashion.

They are not scared of poking fun at their fans either “Get The Right Haircut” proclaims Matt Shultz on Indy Kidz (whether that’s a wise move, only time will tell.) His vocals are a great deal more impressive that their debut. Standing alone his range of belting chorus’s and exasperated yelps are a weapon of considerable force..

They drop the baton however with some good old fashioned balladry. Their acoustic exploits on Rubber Ball fall very short and disrupt what’s was a rich vein of top notch tunes.

There are plenty of other highlights strewn throughout the track list including the poppy Shake Me Down and the all out punk assaults of Sabertooth Tiger and the riff roller coaster that is Japanese Buffalo.

A cracking sophomore album packed with equally as many thrills and surprises as great tunes!!

Mr Flowers Says:

Thank You Happy Birthday exhibits a bit of a departure from some of the Blues rock influences from Cage the Elephant’s self-titled début. Always Something for instance kicks off the album with a drum machine and screams before being overlayed with an off kilter drum beat. Indeed, the guitars are used sparsely, with the drums forming the backbone for the song. It’s a divergance for Cage The Elephant, but not necessarily a bad thing.

Instead of the Blues is a strong Pixies flavour about a lot of the songs; that almost trademark slow-fast mechanic is used on Aberdeen (which draws from Where Is Your Mind a fair bit), Shake Me Down and Around My Head for example. It generally works out pretty well for them – Frank Black should be proud.

Continuing the homages, 2024 draws from Daniel Johnston for a punk song with a tenderly melodic chorus. That Johnston impression returns on the lullaby-like Rubber Ball, although this one doesn’t work nearly as well – missing the aggressive energy we normally expect from Cage The Elephant. In fact, where the album screws up is on the slower songs; the ballady Right Before My Eyes and the poorly executed foray into Modest Mouse territory on the final song, Flow, generally fall flat.

Interspersed are some psychotic, schizophrenic songs like Indy Kidz, where S  chultz indulges in screams and long Sonic Youth-style progressive noise and feedback (and fails); and Sell Yourself and Sabretooth Tiger, punkier, grungy songs which maintain the deranged feeling with bum notes and some angry rock outs (and does a little better). So it’s a little hit and miss, but given all of that you have an album that might not be particularly original but can at least draw from some solid influences to give it a fair share of good songs to join the band’s already strong repertoire.

RockOSaurus: 8/10

MrFlowers: 7/10

DoesItRock Overall Score: 7.5/10

Listen to Cage The Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday now on Spotify!

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