Sound — 9
First off, if you only like "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked," then this album is not for you. The band did a lot of exploration and experimentation on this album. A true comparison between Thank You Happy Birthday and their self-titled debut is difficult to make, since the sound is so markedly different. To a listener who is open to change, the music on this album is solid and fun to listen to. The mix of early Nirvana grunge and indie pop makes for an aural adventure that will not leave you feeling like you listened to the same song 12 times.
Lyrics — 9
Shultz does not always sing perfectly on key; this is fact. Yet the imperfection in his singing probably fits the music better than singing right on all the time, and with the Auto-Tune temptation out there, you have to applaud him for not using it. One of the best things about Cage the Elephant is their lyrics, as they are often provacative and insightful. The song "Indie Kidz" has the most profound lyrics, and much of the lyrics on the rest of the album are uplifting and reminiscent. The story-telling method of "Ain't No Rest" is used in the first track, "Always Something," taking listeners back to the first album. Discounting "Japanese Water Buffalo" and "Saber Tooth Tiger," in which the lyrics are simply silly and fun, the other tracks all have lyrics that many people can relate to in one way or another.
Overall Impression — 9
The profound difference in style from their previous album will leave many listeners unsatisfied. However, I found it refreshing that the band sort of felt like "Been there, done that," and moved on to a new idea. My favorite songs would have to be Aberdeen, Around My Head, and Shake Me Down, although I would simply prefer to listen to the album as a whole, because it paints a very vast musical landscape. On the first listen, I felt a little betrayed, but it grew on me and now I'd say I can't compare the two albums because it sounds like I'm listening to two different bands, which I give as a sincere compliment.