Album Review: Cage the Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday

I’m a bit behind on my music reviews. I understand this so I am trying hard to catch up. I tried to listen to the latest Cold War Kids record but let’s just say I couldn’t make it past a few songs, it was that bad I won’t lie and try to hide that up. Loved the Say Hi album as you can see but now it’s time to look at alt rockers Cage the Elephant. The Kentucky based band releases their second album after garage rock/radio friendly sounding tracks such as “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” as well as others dominated the airwaves of alt stations let’s see if their follow up can maintain the same power as the previous one.

Track Listing:

  1. Always Something (3:41)
  2. Aberdeen (3:12)
  3. Indy Kidz (5:02)
  4. Shake Me Down (3:31)
  5. 2024 (3:10)
  6. Sell Yourself (2:11)
  7. Rubber Ball (3:47)
  8. Right Before My Eyes (3:14)
  9. Around My Head (3:11)
  10. Sabertooth Tiger (2:51)
  11. Japanese Buffalo (3:03)
  12. Flow (7:43)

The first track on the album is entitled “Always Something” and it has that nice garage sound to it from the heavy instrumentals. Though once the heavy beat kicks in I begin to wonder where Trent Reznor is on this recording, is this Cage or NIN? Ah nevermind once the lyrics kick in this is definitely Cage. It has that edgy sound that the band developed on their previous album and you know what, I like this sound. It does feel like Cage the Elephant stealing a Nine Inch Nails sound. The vocals hover around the creaky sound they had on previous tracks and the instrumentals give you a new take on the band.

The following track comes in after that nice introduction from the band is called “Aberdeen.” The track is not a short track either coming in at three minutes and change which is good, sometimes the longer a song is for these guys the worse it is. This song starts off and I half expect the Pixies to be singing “Where is My Mind” on it. This could either be a good thing or a bad thing. Alright I take that back, it’s neutral. This song does sound like a Pixies song but more grungy. A catchy chorus that makes you tap your toes and bob your head makes this not a bad tune in the beginning. The haunting exit to the track still invokes that Pixies feel to it. Good I like it.

“Indy Kidz” is a five minute long romp. Starting off like it might be a screamo track with the screams in the background but once the vocals kick in the shakiness of them leaves you wondering what this song is about. Lyrically it is about how the society is dying or something is wrong with it and the vocalist does a good job with having that shakiness in his voice to display it. The instrumentals are heavy and it feels like an old punk rock song. It’s a long track too for the band so it might end badly. The song though never tapers off and remains a strong one and I really like it until it gets to that instrumental that feels like it drags on for a short period of time. So far this album hasn’t disgusted me…yet

“Shake Me Down” in title might invoke memories of old Cage the Elephant, so if that’s what we are treated to I’m all in on that. Nope I was wrong. It’s slow at the start with a light guitar and vocals dominating. But you know what once it picks up it becomes more and more like the radio friendly band that we know of. I dig the way this song starts and goes into the verses. It has that chill yet fast paced sound we have come to expect from them. The way they mix the slow and fast is a sign that these guys might be able to do anything if they put their mind to it, or they might not, it all depends on the audience they are trying to reach.

“2024” starts off very fast, you couldn’t catch it if it were a speeding train. I like that, but it feels like an older punk rock song, maybe the Clash or Sex Pistols. Maybe that is the point. It mixes in that older influences with some modern styles. It has that vocal style that might see on those tracks from those bands with the instrumentals as well. It’s not a bad track by anymeans but it just might make fans scratch their heads and wonder WTF is going on here. It’s not god awful, I like it on almost all levels.

“Sell Yourself” is the albums’ sixth track. I am not a huge fan of this short track but it is another one of those throw back tracks that might interest older fans of older punk tracks but at the same time it might turn off Cage fans or even new rock fans. It’s weird how fast paced it is, you might not even be able to pick up on it. I’m pretty sure this track is invoking memories of the Pixies’ track entitled “Debaser.”

We move into the seventh track out of twelve so we are slowly reaching our goal of the end. The track is called “Rubber Ball.” I like this track a lot, very slow moving something you might be able to slow dance to but it also shows the ability I mentioned and even doubted earlier. Good slow moving track, although the vocals don’t necessarily fit the bill for the actual song itself or the style I feel like this is one of the stronger tracks on the album itself. I love the occasional drum beat we hear in the background as it seems to be sparingly in appearance and powerful enough that we notice it.

“Right Before My Eyes” is the next track and it seemingly picks up where “Rubber Ball” started, back to the fast paced movement of the entire album. The way the vocals and the guitars are mixed almost seemingly together at the same level is interesting. It sounds like the guitar is actually doing the singing which is odd. The chorus isn’t that catchy but it isn’t the worst thing in the world. I think this song had potential at one point but it lost it as it seems like they want this to be a regular sounding track for them but it has lyrics that make it seem like it should be a slower one.

I like the next track “Around My Head” it has that old album sound to it and what not. It also heavily draws Pixies influences to it as well. The song is average length and the lyrics are hard to pick up on due to the fact that the guitars and bass as well as drum are mixed heavily into the master copy entirely but that is how it’s supposed to sound if you think about it. It really does sound like a Pixies song especially in the vocals, I’m beginning to wonder how intentional it is and how unintentional it probably was in it’s entirety.

“Sabertooth Tiger” is a shorter song on the album and once again it’s a faster moving song reminiscent of the Suicidal Tendencies punk rock era. I’m not digging this track as much but at the same time at least I’m not hating it as much as I thought I would. It has that undermixed sound especially in the vocals where it sounds like a poor mix but that’s the point. This track though doesn’t suffer from that, I can’t pinpoint exactly what I don’t like about it.

“Japanese Buffalo” and the epic length “Flow” close out the album. Buffalo sounds like a fast paced track from the ’50’s which is okay but I hate how fast paced it is. While “Flow” closes out on a nice slower movement than Buffalo would have. The album features a hidden track in “Flow” so keep your mind peeled for that.

Overall Cage crafts another solid album good enough to earn it an 8/10 from me. Stay tuned as I finally get around to doing CAKE and Destroyer’s latest records in the coming days.

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About Angerbanjo

As passionate as one can be about certain topics it is hard to make a living with that passion, that being said my passion for nerd culture, modern music and video gaming has yet to translate into anything moderately successful, that and my degree in electronic media, but hey at least I can use that journalism minor. View all posts by Angerbanjo

One response to “Album Review: Cage the Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday

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