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CD Review: Cage the Elephant

Thank You, Happy Birthday (Jive)

Cage the Elephant's self-titled 2009 debut was filled with lots of greasy countrified rawk, served with steaming sides of fat bottom end and hard-rock brio. But besides the catchy Rock/Alternative Top 10 single "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked," it's not a very memorable record. The Kentucky band's second album, Thank You, Happy Birthday, widens the scope and sharpens the pencil, while retaining the occasional slinky allure that made Cage the Elephant a minor hit. Noisy, slashing, and frequently tuneful guitars fuel the band's funky hard rock on songs like "Aberdeen" and "Around My Head," revealing Happy Birthday's strong and not-so-hidden Pixies influence. There's also some old-school punkabilly and doo-wop on "Japanese Buffalo," a sleek garage-rock freakout on "Sabertooth Tiger," and kaleidoscopic worldliness on the opening "Always Something." With this fine sophomore album, Cage the Elephant display an edge and musical smarts that their debut barely suggested. — Chris Parker

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