Sound — 9
Cage the Elephant's sophmore release, Thank You, Happy Birthday, hit stores January 11th. I've been waiting for it since I heard their self-titled debut last summer. They strayed away from their straight foreward, up-tempo in-your-face rock. The energy still remains, but they have slowed down and expanded. In my opinion, this was a good move. Of course, some fans will be alienated by the new direction. But that's the fans' problem. Here's my take on the songs: 01. Always Something - This song starts off with a catchy beat. It reminded me a bit of ZZ Top. It has a bit psychedelic sound compared to many of their songs. They stray into Beck territory with a bit of rapping by Matt. 02. Aberdeen - Very bass heavy during the verses. The guitar isn't straight chords, more effects and single notes. The chorus brings the straight chords. Some cool mini solos by Lincoln. 03. Indy Kidz - There is an darker, eastern quality to this song. It is similar in sound to The Rolling Stone's .Paint it Black'. They break into frantic, punk inspired chording. And then a trip into a place similar to the outro of 'Tiny Little Robots'. It's another psychadelic section. 04. Shake Me Down - Chorused clean guitars, and then fuzz filled choruses. It has a great sound in my opinion. They slip heavier sounds in where you wouldn't expect it. A great song soundwise. 05. 2024 - This song has a pop-punk sound. Now don't think of conventional pop-punk when I say that, it still has the Cage fingerprint on it that we all know and love. It has an upbeat sound to it. 06. Sell Yourself - Probably the most punk fueled song on the album. Fast, raw energy is what makes this song tick. 07. Rubber Ball - I guess you can consider this the ballad on the album. The intro reminded me of the Beatles' 'A Day in Life'. Has a repetitive riff during most of the song. It has a bit of a contemplative sound. 08. Right Before My Eyes - This is similar in sound to 2024, a lighter sound. I very much enjoy it. The sound isn't really upbeat, or sad, kind of a mix of the two. 09. Around My Head - Another upbeat sounding song. The repetition of the main riff has room between each one, which allows nice breating room that complaments Matt's singing. The chorus is a wall of sound. Not a heavy one, but that lighter sound that makes up a lot of the album 10. Sabertooth Tiger - This is fuzzy, almost White Stripes sounding song. You know what I mean. It has a frantic, almost odd sound. 11. Japanese Buffalo - It starts off with a sound that similar to the Beatles again. It then breaks into a fast riff. It's like they were trying to get as much out as they could. Then a trip into waltz-ish territory. It has a pleasant relaxing, harmony. 13. Flow - I really enjoyed this one. There's a minimalistic drum beat paired with almost hawaiian guitar sound. Bongos then come in. A simple song in many regards. At the middle, there's no sound, then they sing the lyrics to 'Right Before My Eyes' again. This time with an acoustic guitar and a shaker. It's very soothing.
Lyrics — 8
Cage the Elephant's lyrics are as wild as every. They are more introspective than Cage's debut album, which focused on society's issues more so. In Thank You, Happy Birthday, Cage the Elephant seems to take a step back and examine themselves. They still sing about society though. Songs like Indy Kidz and Sell Yourself target bandwaggoners and sell-outs. Always Something tells the tale of misfortunes that happen to a man, similar to Ain't No Rest For the Wicked in that regard. Sabertoothed Tiger takes a trip into pure wildness. There's mostly likely a deeper meaning, but I haven't had time to examine in depth. Matt's harmonies pair well with the rest of the band's sound. His raw throat screams have energy. The only thing that gets old is oo's and ah's. They are ok at first, but then get kind of repetitive.
Overall Impression — 8
This album may not appeal to many fans, but I think die hard fans will enjoy it. I for one did. It showed that Cage the Elephant has matured, but it still retains the same energy and has their signature sound. My favorite songs from the album are 'Always Something', 'Shake Me Down', and 'Right Before My Eyes'. I don't like 'Indy Kidz' or 'Rubber Ball' as much as the others, but I still enjoy them. If it was stolen/lost, I'd buy another one. It's as simple as that. I suggest you go pick up a copy this instant, you won't regret it.