12 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On their sophomore LP, Cage the Elephant snarl, flail and smash their way through a brace of heavy yet bouncy tracks before coming to an uneasy resting place at the album’s end. Like Kentucky-bred quintet’s debut offering, Thank You Happy Birthday owes an obvious debt to the Pixies; singer Matt Shultz’s fearsome yelps come directly from Black Francis’ manic playbook. Beyond this, the band stakes out its own territory thanks to a self-aware lyric sensibility, violent-to-delicate guitar riffage and a bipolar sense of dynamics. Schulz and his cohorts pull back from the brink of chaos by emphasizing hyper-catchy chorus hooks on tracks like “Around My Head,” “Aberdeen” and “Shake Me Down.” Dollops of speed-metal (“2024”), faux-mellow pop (“Rubber Ball”) and surf guitar-rock (”Indy Kidz”) keep the listener from getting comfortable, setting things up for the closing number “Flow,” a simmering tribal stoner jam. Shultz’s bratty, taunting vocal spews are as much directed at his own rock-star pretensions as the stupidities of the world around him.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On their sophomore LP, Cage the Elephant snarl, flail and smash their way through a brace of heavy yet bouncy tracks before coming to an uneasy resting place at the album’s end. Like Kentucky-bred quintet’s debut offering, Thank You Happy Birthday owes an obvious debt to the Pixies; singer Matt Shultz’s fearsome yelps come directly from Black Francis’ manic playbook. Beyond this, the band stakes out its own territory thanks to a self-aware lyric sensibility, violent-to-delicate guitar riffage and a bipolar sense of dynamics. Schulz and his cohorts pull back from the brink of chaos by emphasizing hyper-catchy chorus hooks on tracks like “Around My Head,” “Aberdeen” and “Shake Me Down.” Dollops of speed-metal (“2024”), faux-mellow pop (“Rubber Ball”) and surf guitar-rock (”Indy Kidz”) keep the listener from getting comfortable, setting things up for the closing number “Flow,” a simmering tribal stoner jam. Shultz’s bratty, taunting vocal spews are as much directed at his own rock-star pretensions as the stupidities of the world around him.

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7:43

About Cage the Elephant

Although chart success in England was an unlikely first step to fame for a band from Bowling Green, Kentucky, mainstream rock band Cage the Elephant achieved just that. Formed by Matt Shultz, Brad Shultz, Jared Champion, Lincoln Parish, and Daniel Tichenor, the group earned a contract with the Relentless label and released the "Free Love" single late in 2007. A support slot for the Pigeon Detectives beckoned in early 2008, and follow-up single "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" reached the Top 40 in June. The group's self-titled debut followed soon after, becoming a respectable commercial and critical success. Two years later they returned with the single "Shake Me Down," while early 2011 saw the release of their second album, Thank You Happy Birthday. In early 2012, the band released the live CD and DVD Live from the Vic in Chicago, which captured performances from their sold-out two-night run at the famous Chicago venue. Returning to the studio, the band recorded its third album, Melophobia. Released in October 2013, the album saw the group collaborating with Alison Mosshart (the Kills, the Dead Weather) and featured the modern rock radio hit "Come a Little Closer." During the Melophobia era, Cage the Elephant parted ways with their founding guitarist, Lincoln Parish, who went on to focus on producing for other artists in Nashville. In late 2015, the band released its fourth album, Tell Me I'm Pretty, which was produced by Dan Auerbach of onetime tourmates the Black Keys. The ensemble embarked on both nationwide and European tours in promotion of the record throughout 2016 to rapturous success. Cage the Elephant continued performing throughout early 2017 with a series of intimate, stripped-down, unplugged shows around the States that spanned their entire back catalog. The performances were captured and chronicled in their second live release, Unpeeled, which arrived in the early summer of 2017. ~ Chris True

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