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.