Album Review: Cage The Elephant

Holly Chisholm

     Held together by Matthew Shultz’s biting, shaking vocals, Kentucky-based band Cage the Elephant is a fast-paced in-your-face mesh of southern rock that leaves a crowd roiled up and ready for more.  Their new album, Thank You Happy Birthday, comes right at you with the track “Always Something”. Laced with primal screeches and a noir sort of sound that conjures up images of dark streets and private eyes, it sounds a bit like the opening to a James Bond movie. Aberdeen’s catchy chorus moves along smoothly picking up momentum, leading into “Indy Kidz”, a sneering, angry jar of bees with a bite like “a toothpick in my mind.” “Shake Me Down” is a summarization of the album as a whole: smooth guitars and looping vocals cut through here and there with a bit of wild, catchy chaos. The rowdiness of the old Elephant album is still here in tracks like “Saber Tooth” and “Sell Yourself”, though it seems that the band is not scared to approach more serious material. “Rubber Ball” winds down with a music-box mellow repose but things pick back up again (though a bit more cleanly) with “Right Before My Eyes” which goes down smooth and easy: no tricks or technicalities. “Around My Head” comes back, a swoopy punch-drunk song as tongue-in-cheek as the kazoos and monkey “oohs” and “ahs” that make it a fun silly song. “Japanese Buffalo” follows up nicely at frenzied pace, accented playfully with an organ-grinder and nonsensical telltale lyrics. The album concludes gradually with “Flow” which stretches past the seven minute mark. Matt’s weary voice turns into a looping lullaby that leaves the listener with a sort of quiet after the storm sort of feel that closes the album nicely. It’s a sad but sweet ending to a well-rounded album.