Cage the Elephant- Thank You, Happy Birthday

Posted: February 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

Don’t talk about me, let’s talk about you
I know your type, I know exactly what you want to do
And if the money’s right, you think I’ll just agree?
  So sad to see you torn apart by all your selfish greed”

Sell Yourself from Thank You, Happy Birthday

Kentucky based Cage the Elephant arrived onto my music scene with their 2011 album Thank You Happy Birthday, their singles being Shake Me Down, Aberdeen and Around My Head. Bear in mind that Cage the Elephant are one of those bands whose fame doesn’t travel well Transatlantic. It took their biggest song, Shake Me Down, (the Nine-Million-YouTube-Hitter) for the other side of the Atlantic to find out what all the fuss was about. Let’s look at another band that haven’t travelled well transatlantic, but from this side. Two Door Cinema Club, huge in Britain, but as far as I know haven’t made it as big in North America. What is it the link? There isn’t one. That’s the link. We can see the link with there not being one, which is where we notice the huge contrasts: one are a fun Indie pop band that are refreshing to listen to in the summer from Northern Ireland (but feel a bit out of place on the cold bus home in January), and one remind you of the harsh reality that is the selfish and unrelenting human being. In this example, we see simply that it’s the more laid back, seasonal bands that make it big at home in Britain, but in (some parts) of North America it’s the intense group that attract interest.

As we’re on the topic of unrelenting and selfish human beings, I’ll be moving onto the Thank You, Happy Birthday track Sell Yourself (which has a quote in bold italics at the top). This is where we see front man Matt Schulz enter a psychedelic trance that merges the bands’ music with rap. This is the pinpoint moment I imagine fans at a concert, what I like to call, “completely and utterly losing their shit.”

Shake Me Down is Cage the Elephant’s most sought after song, which expresses the suppression and aftershock of loss. It’s this lyric that epitomises what I love about them. This is their niche; they aren’t here to talk about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, they’re here to analyse something else: loss. Complemented by a melancholy video we see the band telling the tale of a family losing its father.

“In my life, I have seen,
People walk into the sea,
Just to find memories,
Plagued by constant misery,
Their eyes cast down,
Fixed upon the ground,
Their eyes cast down”

The album cover has the words ‘Cage the Elephant’ etched over it in different colours, with the name of the album scribbled into the bottom right hand corner in orange. In the middle of the word ‘Elephant’, there is a mysterious purple blotch and a sort of lemniscates above the band’s name. The band have covered many songs, my favourite being their take on Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’, which I’ve left a link for below.

Thanks for reading, Ethan.

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