Cage the Elephant: Thank You Happy Birthday

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Posted March 16, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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Kentucky alt-rock band brings high energies and expansive rock list to colorful second disc

Kentucky-bred indie-rock band Cage the Elephant make a ‘big’ splash with their sophomore LP, Thank You Happy Birthday. Filled with dirty, overwrought garage-sounding guitars and plenty of electronic sounds, the palette of Thank You Happy Birthday is rich. Creative for the most part, the disc is an ornamented effort that fuses a ‘greatest hits’ of alt-rock bands while adding their own ‘spice’ to the mix along with a few overly manic moments.

“Always Something” intrigues with its splashy production work, which includes an array of electronic sounds, grinding guitars, and a thick bass line. Accessibility is its strong point, granting the audience an inescapable groove and a simple, yet catchy chorus: “It’s always something, before the late night, around the corning, there’s always something waiting for you.” “Aberdeen” is more alluring, maintaining an infectious groove and providing more mind-boggling lyrics. “Indy Kidz” features a unique ‘wall of sound’ and is captivating; however its consummate length and liberal changes of style make the cut slightly unstable. The band’s intent? Most likely.

“Shake Me Down” is nearly perfect, featuring epic moments that keep the “rock-n-roll” sensibility alive. The rub would be the over-compressed guitars, a predictable trend, though expected from such a punk influenced affair. “2024” is solid, though not earth-shattering, while “Sell Yourself” epitomizes indie-rock gold. Featuring a great chorus and unique use of sounds, “Sell Yourself” makes one wonder if Cage the Elephant are the new alt-band to watch.

“Rubber Ball” provides nice contrast, though the straight ahead rock-n-roll sound of “Right Before My Eyes” is the stronger showing. “Around My Head” is a clear winner, thanks to its clever lyrics: “I don’t think it’s very nice to walk around my head all night, got me tangled like a bread tie twisted, I don’t think it’s fair do you?” “Sabertooth Tiger” and “Japanese Buffalo” embody punk-revivalism, but overindulge given the unmusical mix. “Flow” is a departure from the rest of the effort but doesn’t eclipse gems like “Aberdeen” or “Around My Head.”

Thank You Happy Birthday, in essence, may not be the second coming, but is a solid sophomore effort from rising stars. Too loud and overindulgent moments make one ponder had Cage the Elephant just reigned themselves in more, the effort would be nearly flawless. Despite the ‘what ifs,’ the high energy – which is ‘spun like a spiderweb’- is superb in itself.

BRENT FAULKNER

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 11 January 2011
  • Label: Jive
  • Producer: Jay Joyce
  • Spin This: “Always Something,” “Aberdeen,” “Shake Me Down,” “Sell Yourself,” “Around My Head”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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