Cage The Elephant Screams Loudly With “Thank You Happy Birthday”

Cage the Elephant Screams with New Album

Dan Meyers

Cage the Elephant Screams with New Album

In 2008, Cage the Elephant released their self-entitled debut album. The band’s high-energy punk style quickly grabbed the attention of thousands of listeners and the abundantly catchy single, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” was quickly a radio hit. The band’s second album, “Thank You Happy Birthday” reclaims similar success, combining catchy lyricism with a unique style of modern punk and edge to produce the band’s freshest sound yet.

The album takes a chaotic tone from start to end, reflecting on a world that has lapsed into disorder and evil. The starting track, “Always Something” combines absurd sounds, pulsing drums and screaming to stress the singer’s struggle to find tranquility in the world. Lead vocalist Matthew Shultz’s lyrics are certainly catchy but, at times flat and emotionless. Despite this, “Always Something” maintains a solid progression and kicks off the album with a bang.

“Shake Me Down”, the first radio hit, is one of the best on “Thank You Happy Birthday”. The calm sounding guitar at the start of the track supplies a refreshing respite from the ridiculous amounts of noise found in the preceding songs. The song develops a surprisingly unique sound from its ability to fluctuate effectively between soothing strumming and noisy drum fills.

Because the lyrics on this album depict a borderline insane world, Cage the Elephant tries desperately to reflect this chaos in their music. The result is a sometimes powerful and sometimes annoying sounding record. “Indy Kidz”, the album’s third track, sounds like noisy flavorless punk, but it certainly makes the calmer songs on the record stand out from the rest. It is overly noisy songs like “Indy Kidz” and “Japanese Buffalo” that strain the record– there is only so many times one can listen to these songs before the ears bleed from nonsensical screaming being drowned by an overly enthusiastic drum line.

“Rubber Ball” is the only track on the record lacking batty drum fills and punkish guitar lines.  Instead, the song features acoustic noodling and majestic back up opera singing, refreshing the edgy vibe of the album in beautiful ways. The song “Flow”, taking on a similar texture to “Rubber Ball”, also develops a surprisingly chiller tone that listeners will be undoubtedly grateful for.

“Right before my very eyes, I saw the whole world lose control” Shultz wails both on the track “Right Before My Eyes” and the ending track “Flow”. Although redundant, it is an oddly appropriate way to end the album, as it seems to be Shultz’s message throughout. Cage the Elephant may not always have the clearest direction with some of the tracks on “Thank You Happy Birthday” but, in total, it is a commendable effort. Each song is noisy and expressive to the point where it almost hurts the ears. In other words, the elephant has been let out of the cage.