Monday, February 6, 2012

THANK YOU HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Cage The Elephant (2011)

Following 2009's Stonesy self-titled debut, Kentucky's lively Cage The Elephant turns their retro-rock gaze clearly on the music of the 90s, with wide-ranging returns.

The poppier and/or mellower tunes here work fairly well.  Bubblegum single Right Before My Eyes is irresistible, 2024 is a hugely entertaining, spastic 90s era punker, and three blatant Modest Mouse ripoffs Shake Me Down, Rubber Ball, and Flow all come off well enough.

But it's in its pursuit of the 90s more aggressive sounds, those of The Smashing Pumpkins, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and The Pixies, that Thank You Happy Birthday falls apart.   Where other younger bands this year, particularly Yuck, seem to intuitively grasp the essence of what made hard-edge 90s alt-rock work, Cage here seems tone-deaf to it,  capturing all the graceless, violent, abrasive ugliness of that noisiest, most atonal of decades, but none of the intrigue.

In the end, the extreme poor quality of Thank You Happy Birthday's hardest numbers is too much for its two genuinely awesome tunes to offset, making it impossible for me to recommend the album in full on any level.

Status: Not Recommended.

Cherry Picker's Best Bets: Shake Me Down, 2024, Right Before My Eyes, Flow.

Here's the official video for one of the album's Modest Mouse-flavored tracks, Shake Me Down.

Component Breakdown:
1. Always Something - 7
2. Aberdeen - 7
3. Indy Kidz - 4
4. Shake Me Down - 7
5. 2024 - 9
6. Sell Yourself - 5
7. Rubber Ball - 7
8. Right Before My Eyes - 9
9. Around My Head - 6
10. Sabertooth Tiger - 4
11. Japanese Buffalo - 5
12. Flow - 8
Intangibles - Low
Spotify / I-Tunes

What are your thoughts on Cage The Elephant's Thank You Happy Birthday?

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