There’s a certain slacker charm and coy antagonism about Cage the Elephant’s winter-released second album, “Thank You, Happy Birthday.” The glowering, hard garage sound and sardonic lyrics recall a golden era propelled by seminal Seattle bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Mudhoney — particularly Mudhoney at their stage-crawling best. Perhaps that’s why Cage the Elephant have been dubbed as grunge revivalists.
Let’s face it, with a song called “Aberdeen” honoring Nirvana founder Kurt Cobain’s hometown and an appearance at this year’s Coachella festival with frontman Matt Shultz wearing a red mini dress echoing Cobain’s penchant for sporting a gown onstage, it’s a tag the band doesn’t seem eager to disavow.
“I don’t think that’s what we’re essentially doing,” says guitarist and Matt’s brother Brad. “But some of the influences are definitely there. I can see where people are coming from by saying that, but I also think that’s what people want to happen. That’s the last real music movement that happened. People just want something to happen. We’re the same; we want something to happen in music. But we want our generation to hold its own torch.”
Shultz says there are influences that not all critics are picking up on.
“Like old surf music,” he says. “There’s just a lot. We’re a band that falls in love with music and then it somehow naturally gets in there.”