Thank You, Happy Birthday review by Cage the Elephant

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Jan 11, 2011
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.9 (56 votes)
Cage the Elephant: Thank You, Happy Birthday
0

Sound — 6
"Thank You, Happy Birthday" sounds very different than Cage The Elephant's debut album. In some cases this can be a good thing, bands that can expand and not rely so myopically on the sound that made them famous usually have more staying power. However, as seen with a band such as Linkin Park, a drastic change or mellowing of the music can cause a certain level of revolt amongst the band's fanbase. Cage's new album is less aggresive, with many slower and softer songs than previously recorded. Gone too msny of the guitar riffs and solos which first made me standup and take notice to this original sounding, yet still mainstream act. This album sounds more like a generic indie album than the band that just three year ago seemed poised to take over the rock music world. There are a few bright spots on the album, but they were too few and far between.

Lyrics — 7
Matt Shultz's lyrical depth was a pleasant surprise for this genre of mainstream music. In many cases the new album displays some of the same tendencies heard on their debut album, with the song "Always Something" bringing up similar lyrical imagery heard on "Ain't no rest for the wicked." However, there were also many cases where "Thank You, Happy Birthday's" lyrics did not seem quite as polished as I would have liked. With a song such as "Around My Head" having a choppy, almost Bob Dylan, vocal style that leaves the song feeling very unfinished, and with the monkey-like "ooo ooo aaa aaa's" that lead into the chorus, this song exhibits the type of uneven sytle that I got from much of the album.

Overall Impression — 6
"Thank You, Happy Birthday" is an ok record; it just wasn't a good Cage The Elephant record. After the dismal 2010 in music, the bar was set pretty low, and Cage does manage to clear it with this album, but not by much. "Shake Me Down" and "Aberbeen" seem to be the best songs on the record, both of which will probably be the singles that sell the album, but there was just not enough of those songs. Too many songs were like "Rubber Ball," which incidentally works great as an alternative to NyQuil if you are having trouble falling asleep. Overall the record is a 6/10, but probably lost a point or so simply because I expected a 10/10 from these guys.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    musicman0001
    i think that yes, it sounds more indie, i personally like the rock style better but i love cage the elephant and they got a pretty good new album
    Jet_Black88
    Stayed pretty true to their sound? I don't know what you're listening to, but I thought I had picked up the wrong album when I started listening to it. It's incredibly different than the first album. It's not that it is a bad album, but anyone expecting something in the same vein as their debut needs to shake their expectations and go into it as something new. There are highlights on the album, and it manages to stay at least somewhat interesting throughout the entire thing, but it's a completely different sound than the blues-punk of the original. I'd almost say it's new wave/alternative/grunge.
    Schmohawk
    I do not see that, if you read the story about how they made 80 songs, but then scraped all of them and had to seclude themselves in a kentucky cabin for a week to write new songs, or that Schultz was found rolling around in a pile of leaves to try to find inspiration in something, it sort of makes me think he had a lot of trouble writing these songs and maybe felt a lot of pressure to make this album goood and just swung and missed. It probably was not the best way to write this album and it shows, IMO.
    amberhye
    I tend to disagree slightly, no doubt its not the first album but I like what they are doing. Listen to it and you will love it. Everyone is just afraid of change and these guys have changed the game and dont be surprised when they come back for a 3rd twice as hard.
    BassFishin
    ExistentialistM wrote: BassFishin wrote: Yea man, i get what you're saying...but it's not like these guys have been around for 10 years and are 'getting tired of it'. Seriously...this band is brand new. You can't get frustrated at people that were expecting more out of a band that seems to be in its peak. Then again, saw them live at Summerfest. They really didn't seem to have it together at all. Maybe they hit their peak prematurely... It seems to me though that people are treating them like they've been around for years, they're already expecting them to come up with a perfect album, but a band has to mature and evolve and learn what works best for them no? Before they can put out something incredible.
    My problem is that their self-titled record WAS pretty damn near perfect. That record is absolutely great from front to back. That being their ONLY album, I would expect their second one to be pretty damn good, too. Instead, it's just sorta mediocre.
    Wesseem
    i liked this one way more than their last. To be honest i'm hooked to this album. Can't stop listening to aberdeen and shake me down.
    Patrick L
    At first I didn't think it was that great, but after a few more listens it started to grow on me.
    zach in black
    I thought this was better than the last album. I listened to it 3 times in a row the day it came out. This album was a perfect blend of a grungy sort of aggresion,and dream-like ballads. The lyrics were quite powerful, but also quite abstract in some places,sounding like they wouldn't be out of place in a Meat Puppets album. Just because it doesn't sound exactly like the first album doesn't mean that it should be trashed like this in a review.
    Schmohawk
    Agressive not in the "white power lead singer screamoing lyrics," but in the sense that all the songs were fast and loud, the lyrics were all spoken quickly, there was no "now I'd like to slow this down" moment, the record was all go, where each song had a sense of immediacy. That is not the case with the new ablum at all. If the debut album was doing 70mph, this new album is doing 20mph in a school zone.
    Kreuger
    Their debut was aggressive? I loved No Rest For the Wicked but was disappointed the rest of the album was quite different. It came across as like a pop punk. So what's this one like?
    =McS=
    I don't know why I keep getting sucked into reading these reviews that I always disagree with. Why can't people just say they liked it or they didn't and move on. Don't overanalyze it people. Btw, I like it.
    ExistentialistM
    BassFishin wrote: Yea man, i get what you're saying...but it's not like these guys have been around for 10 years and are 'getting tired of it'. Seriously...this band is brand new. You can't get frustrated at people that were expecting more out of a band that seems to be in its peak. Then again, saw them live at Summerfest. They really didn't seem to have it together at all. Maybe they hit their peak prematurely...
    It seems to me though that people are treating them like they've been around for years, they're already expecting them to come up with a perfect album, but a band has to mature and evolve and learn what works best for them no? Before they can put out something incredible.
    BassFishin
    ExistentialistM wrote: I think this album was great. No. It wasn't their debut, but seriously, god forbid a band gets tired of playing the same kind of music and wants to branch out from what made them famous. They're gonna be the frustrated band way in the future where everyone is outraged that they won't play 'Aint No Rest For The Wicked.' This album is diverse, its not like their debut where most of the songs sounded the same, they've really matured as musicians and it shows in their work. I definitely think this album had plenty of high points other than Shake Me Down. Always Something is a seriously cool, kind of beatsy opening that is all Cage, I'm also a big fan of Sabertooth Tiger, the intensity in that song is unparalleled, and Japanese Buffalo has a fun, old school punk rock style that switches to, what I would almost call an athem sound. Not to mention the acoustic version of Right Before My Eyes is absolutely beautiful and shows a maturity in the band I hadn't seen before. But I'd say, obviously it comes down to personal taste. Some people will like some of the new sounds, others will hate it. Do I like it as much as the first album? I don't know, I think they're both two very good, very different albums, and that people need to broaden their minds a little bit and give it a chance. 8.5 from me.
    Yea man, i get what you're saying...but it's not like these guys have been around for 10 years and are 'getting tired of it'. Seriously...this band is brand new. You can't get frustrated at people that were expecting more out of a band that seems to be in its peak. Then again, saw them live at Summerfest. They really didn't seem to have it together at all. Maybe they hit their peak prematurely...
    jtalep
    ExistentialistM wrote: I think this album was great. No. It wasn't their debut, but seriously, god forbid a band gets tired of playing the same kind of music and wants to branch out from what made them famous. They're gonna be the frustrated band way in the future where everyone is outraged that they won't play 'Aint No Rest For The Wicked.' This album is diverse, its not like their debut where most of the songs sounded the same, they've really matured as musicians and it shows in their work. I definitely think this album had plenty of high points other than Shake Me Down. Always Something is a seriously cool, kind of beatsy opening that is all Cage, I'm also a big fan of Sabertooth Tiger, the intensity in that song is unparalleled, and Japanese Buffalo has a fun, old school punk rock style that switches to, what I would almost call an athem sound. Not to mention the acoustic version of Right Before My Eyes is absolutely beautiful and shows a maturity in the band I hadn't seen before. But I'd say, obviously it comes down to personal taste. Some people will like some of the new sounds, others will hate it. Do I like it as much as the first album? I don't know, I think they're both two very good, very different albums, and that people need to broaden their minds a little bit and give it a chance. 8.5 from me.
    Why didn't you just write a review...
    ExistentialistM
    I think this album was great. No. It wasn't their debut, but seriously, god forbid a band gets tired of playing the same kind of music and wants to branch out from what made them famous. They're gonna be the frustrated band way in the future where everyone is outraged that they won't play 'Aint No Rest For The Wicked.' This album is diverse, its not like their debut where most of the songs sounded the same, they've really matured as musicians and it shows in their work. I definitely think this album had plenty of high points other than Shake Me Down. Always Something is a seriously cool, kind of beatsy opening that is all Cage, I'm also a big fan of Sabertooth Tiger, the intensity in that song is unparalleled, and Japanese Buffalo has a fun, old school punk rock style that switches to, what I would almost call an athem sound. Not to mention the acoustic version of Right Before My Eyes is absolutely beautiful and shows a maturity in the band I hadn't seen before. But I'd say, obviously it comes down to personal taste. Some people will like some of the new sounds, others will hate it. Do I like it as much as the first album? I don't know, I think they're both two very good, very different albums, and that people need to broaden their minds a little bit and give it a chance. 8.5 from me.
    ZA58
    the lead singer I notice in the first album seem to be on a aggrson beng and that made the first ablum great but you can only be angery for so long hopfuling they get mad enoff to make a great third ablum
    fartsyjoe420
    i was definitely hoping for a better album, but it's not terrible. stayed pretty true to their sound, but it just didn't have any standout moments. 6.5/10
    jtalep
    Tangle and Aberdeen were the only tracks I wanted to listen to again...rest of the album is pretty poor
    divji
    It's a rather dissapointing record then? I was hoping for an excellent from them. I must give it a listen myself.
    jas6nq
    I think it's great, just not the "throw on and party" vibe of the former record.