Still at it after twenty years, Sacramento, California's Cake is back with their sixth studio album, "Showroom Of Compassion". The most surprising thing about 'Showroom' may be the fact that it debuted at the Number One spot on the Billboard Album Chart. Best known for their 1998 hit "Never There", Cake wasn't exactly on a lot of folks' radar as an early contender for a 2011 Number One album.
As far as the music, this is pretty much the Cake you know. John McCrea is front and center with his signature singing style, and the band's approach to pop and rock music remains filled with detours into a wide variety of genres and unique sounds. This won't go down as one of my favorites of the year, but it is certainly an entertaining record.
"Long Time" calls to mind "Never There" with McCrea singing in a lower register with a chugging rhythm section behind him. It's definitely the funkiest track on the album. First single "Sick of You" also stands out as the highlight here with its sing-along ready chorus, thumping bassline and fuzzy guitars. It's radio ready for sure, and this scintillating performance on Conan is what first drew my attention to the album.
Strangely enough, the instrumental "Teenage Pregnancy" is another highlight, with a lovely little melody to boot. Working less successfully are the bloops and blips of "Easy To Crash", the country-tinged "Bound Away" and silly album closer "Italian Guy".
"Showroom Of Compassion" is a mixed bag for sure. If you like Cake's music already, there is certainly nothing here that will make that change. I'm not sure it will gain them a whole legion of fans either, but there is enough stuff here that any fan of alternative or indie rock and pop will like, giving it a wide appeal, hence the Number One debut.
"Showroom of Compassion" was released in the U.S. January 11, 2011 on Upbeat Records.