Chances are, garage-punk outfit Cage the Elephant didn’t know just how big it would get after writing its first album lyric, “We ain’t got the tunes that’s gonna put us on the map.” The now-established band returns with “Thank You, Happy Birthday,” an album that exudes musical power and sheer dominance.
The noticeable difference between the band’s self-titled debut effort and its second album is the energy of the tracks. While the first album embraced the punk spirit with a radio-friendly tinge, this one is further down the punk spectrum with songs like “Sell Yourself,” “Indy Kidz” and “Sabertooth Tiger,” which incorporate edgier guitar riffs and less pop styling in the melodies.
If ever there was a punk song about not losing hope, lead single “Shake Me Down” is it. Singer Matt Schultz recalls his days of lost memories and broken dreams, yet concludes with the lyric, “Even on a cloudy day, I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun.” The anthem’s intensity builds with each echoing rim shot as Schultz wails over the mic.
Screaming, screeching and all other manners of cacophony are common for Cage the Elephant’s albums, and this one is no exception. With yelps and shrieks throughout the new release, Schultz sounds more like a punk rager ready for lockup in a madhouse.
“Around My Head,” a considerable bright spot of the album, is all about trying to get rid of that one person haunting another’s thoughts. Forcefully, Schultz tries to oust the specter with the simple yet clever lyric, “You got me tangled like a bread tie twisted.”
This album will surely be a treat for fans when performed live because Schultz usually undergoes mild body fits that morph into full-blown exorcisms and performs stage dives that would even impress stage-diving pioneer Iggy Pop. Without a doubt, these Kentuckians have struck gold yet again.