Thank You Happy Birthday by Cage the Elephant

It seems Cage the Elephant has grown a little staid. Tell Me I'm Pretty was one Danger Mouse organ line away from being an Attack & Release retread, thanks to The Black Keys' chief nostalgiaminer Dan Auerbach running the boards. What started as a crazy, energetic garage-noise band has gracefully matured into a polished singles outfit tailor-made for the nearest Urban Outfitters, and one can only hope they reverse the trend before they grow old. It wasn't always like this, though. Come sit by the fire and let me tell you of back when Cage the Elephant could blister the most calloused among us, with 2011's Thank You Happy Birthday as my evidence.

Thank You Happy Birthday might strike some as a little discombobulated at first. Between the affected moaning and spy guitar of "Always Something", the radio-friendly optimism of "Shake Me Down", the absolutely fucking manic noise rock fits of "Sell Yourself", and the gentle, emergent layer breeze of "Flow", the record plays like a gouged sampler tape of various fictional 90s alt rock outfits, and Cage the Elephant perfectly embodies every one. Matt Shultz, the band's frontman, puts a head on the warped bodies of every track here, interchangably cooing and screeching and proving that technically bad voices still have a place in rock music. Sometimes, the chaos is too much even for the band to handle, as "Japanese Buffalo" proves, but mostly, Thank You Happy Birthday is all winners.

Thank You Happy Birthday

Essential: "Always Something", "Sell Yourself", "Flow"
Quintessential: "Shake Me Down"
Non-essential: "Japanese Buffalo"

Rating: Great
Listen on Spotify