Cage the Elephant: Thank You Happy Birthday - review

(Relentless DSP)

Three years on from the rock'n'roll joyride of their debut, Cage the Elephant have returned as a very different beast. Casting UK indie influences aside, the Kentucky five-piece has sought out the best in US punk and proto-grunge, layering exhilarating darkness and sinister sweetness, and some of the catchiest melodies you'll hear all year. The Pixies' influence looms large, with CTE wallowing in their predecessor's loud-quiet dynamic on both Aberdeen and Around My Head, before singer Matt Shultz faithfully reprises all of Black Francis's vocal tics during Japanese Buffalo. The Dead Kennedys meet Mudhoney within the itchy anxiety and shrieking menace of Indy Kidz, whilst the anthemic 2024 echoes controversial 80s hardcore band the Crucifucks. But in among all the schizophrenic, speeding rhythms, the band reveal a gift for grownup pop – complete with big guitars and sighing harmonies – in Right Before My Eyes and turbulent daydream Shake Me Down. Derivative? Absolutely, but brilliant nonetheless.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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