Cage The Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday
There’s every chance that many people won’t have heard of Cage The Elephant before, so here’s a very simple analogy to use: think of the complete opposite to Kings Of Leon and you’ll be pretty much on the money. Their eponymous debut album was raw and ramshackle rock ‘n’ roll at its finest and restored your faith in the belief that music could be as viscerally exciting as it can be enjoyable. Thankfully their follow up Thank You Happy Birthday, retains exactly the same rough charm, firmly establishing themselves as one of the most thrilling rock acts around.
With the lead single ‘Shake Me Down’ receiving decent airplay, there’s every hope that this album might get the recognition it deserves. Taking the formula from their debut and intensifying it by adding more guitar solos along with crazed vocal bursts from Matt Shultz, has resulted in an album that has to be heard to be believed. Take ‘Japanese Buffalo’ for example; starting off mellow with choral harmonies, it very quickly descends into fast-paced rock carnage before pulling itself together to craft a ‘lighters in the air’ final bridge and outro. It isn’t for the faint-hearted and certainly not pretty, but it’s undeniably a pulsating listen.
In amongst the musical carnage, Cage The Elephant still remember that all the energy and excitement in the world isn’t enough without the quality songs to back them up. There isn’t a clunker to be found with even the sheer weirdness of ‘Indy Kidz’, which sets its stall out within seconds with a growled “I want to be just like you” followed by an extended snarl, managing to captivate. ‘2024’ has a cracking rhythm powered by Jared Champion’s drumming, while ‘Rubber Ball’ shows a completely different side of Cage – all gentle acoustics and dreamy vocals akin more to a lullaby than a rock ‘n’ roll track. Probably pick of a strong field though is ‘Sabertooth Tiger’ which starts off at a blistering tempo with Shultz’s vocals a mere blur amongst the ferocious guitars, before showcasing Cage’s masterful control of dynamics by inserting a softer edge just when everything seems like it’s getting too much.
Essentially Thank You Happy Birthday works because it’s largely different to much else currently on offer; it’s the sound of a band playing music for the thrill of it instead of thinking of how to appeal to the masses, and that passion and energy transfer into the music as a result. Utterly compelling from first to last note, it’s an album that should drag Cage The Elephant kicking and screaming into the mainstream. If that does happen, it’ll be like all our birthdays have come at once.