The strangely titled Thank You Happy Birthday is the second studio LP from Kentucky Rock group Cage The Elephant it see’s them ditch the poppier gloss of their debut more a much more raw and furious sound.
One thing that becomes abundantly clear when listening to this album is that theres a lot of anger on here, it’s echoed through the lyrics and most prominently the instrumentation and structure of the music. Theres a lot of distortion ranging throughout from the ragged, wretched vocal deliveries to the dirty fuzz of the guitar tones which punch through the speakers repeadtly. Especially in the first half of the album its clear that the band are interested in venturing to new areas of sound and where there 2008 debut boasted tracks with great melodies and pop sensibilties like In One Ear and Aint No Rest For the Wicked, Thank You Happy Birthday has thrown that style out the window in exchange for a more noise rock punk aesthetic. The first half of the LP seems to channel some obvious influences a little too strongly, for example the track Indy Kidz just echoes the raw power of The Stooges and in a lot of other tracks lead singer Matthew Schultz seems to be putting out his best Frank Black impression. Although they wear this style well it seems like they’re not really putting their own stamp on these songs and are perhaps embracing their influences a little too much.
However as the album spills into the second half they seem to shake this dangerously close homage loose a little bit with tracks like Rubber Ball and the near 8 minute long album closer Flow bringing a more tender side to the album. This not only helps them find their own stride a bit more but it balances the sonic equilibrium of the album as a whole, it sheds a little light on the darker more brutal moments.
Overall Thank You Happy Birthday is proof that Cage The Elephant are still bashing out the angles and gelling as band still in search of their specific style, but as they go through this process its clear there having a blast together and this album definetly proves that they have talent and that their hearts are definetly in the right place.