THE DEAL: Cage the Elephant releases eagerly anticipated follow-up to its self-titled debut.
THE GOOD: The band found a bit of success with the release of its first album, though it doesn't seem like that's what they're looking for. Remaining true to itself, Thank You Happy Birthday is a conglomerate of different styles that takes hints from The Pixies and Nirvana. There's plenty of melody that will find its way onto the radio, but Cage the Elephant doesn't come across as a group looking for any kind of mainstream success. Reverbed vocals, random instrumental riffs and moments of complete disarray are more calculated than the casual listener might think. Singer Matt Schultz isn't the greatest vocalist with the broadest range, but that keeps a good bit of the band's punk aesthetic intact.
THE BAD: Top 40 fans will complain the album is all over the place — but I don't think that's a bad thing.
THE VERDICT: The band avoids a sophomore slump. While it doesn't initially sound as strong as their debut, it shows maturity and the band's ability to change and remain diverse and current.