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

4/5 stars

This album is a long time coming. Everyone by now knows how much I dig their first release.

As the opening track hits the laser on the CD player or the computer program pumps out the first beat, the listener feels encoded that this will not be another sophomore assembly line of junk.

Matthew Shultz has a voice that is as unique as his word configuration that separates Cage The Elephant from other rock bands. Brad Shultz has the counter; with every strum and flick of the chords he compiles an original sound. Together, they are admittedly "turned away from fear-based writing." This has opened them up to recording what other people want to hear from them. When bands take these risks, fans will relate and follow, but most of all they buy tickets.

Cage has spent an extended period of time on the road and with that, like most bands, they leave the creative process in the rearview. Brad tells a story on their web site as to Matt's crazy approach to getting inspired.

Many songs show the growth the band has had musically. Lyrically, life inspires the greatest lyrics and once Matt released the demons of life's changes, he was able to dig through and find his writing. "Always Something" tells small stories of how twists and turns in life can make you sit up and take notice. What came to mind was the film "Crash" that circles the lives of so many people who, in either a small or large way, contribute to circumstances they may never realize that they had an impact on.

The first single, "Shake Me Down", moves along with punk undertones that bring the 70's alive. Matt's slow melodic vocals grow with his "oooh's" then build when the band kicks in with pounding punk sounds that grab the listener.

The rhythm section of Daniel Tichenor (bass) and Jared Champion (drums) have laid down some incredible rock foundations. At times it feels that the layers of guitar become their own voice in the mix. When the vocals do kick in, you have a rock album for the masses.

The lower songs such as: "Rubber Ball", "Flow" and even "Right Before Your Eyes" never really release the listener. These tracks only allow for a momentary rest before you get folded back in to the chaos. This song sequence grinds through every fiber of your body leaving the listener wanting to replay it one more time.

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Source by Rachael M Kohrn

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