By Zachary Pearce
“It’s been a long time,” sings Cake lead singer John McCrea on the band’s Jan. 11 release, Showroom of Compassion, “Since I’ve seen your smiling face.” CAKE has toured through big cities and small towns, but it seems like ‘a long time’ has elapsed since their last LP, the 2004 release Pressure Chief.
The seven-year gap between albums is almost biblical in its timing. For the better part of a decade, die-hard ‘Cake-eaters’ have replayed seminal recordings from “Motorcade of Generosity” to “Comfort Eagle” to avoid the seven-year album famine.
Fans clamored for something more after the 2007 release of B-Sides and Rarities. Enter Showroom of Compassion.
There is a litany of horns, a chorus of twanging percussion, and driving guitar rhythms, especially on the first cut of the album, the oddly political “Federal Funding.”
There are some instant classic Cake tracks that could find homes on any of the band’s previous five albums. “Sick of You” is a riveting track that holds the album together at its seams. “Mustache Man” (“Wasted”), is beautifully idiosyncratic and generally off-kilter, building horns, dialogue, sirens, and handclaps over a relatively simple melody.
There is a certain element of lethargy that creeps through—songs like “Teenage Pregnancy” and “Got To Move” are decidedly low-key, and while no less listenable, seem oddly placed in Cake’s repertoire.
Even so, with typical enthusiasm and unabashed joy, the album ticks along with a steady and enjoyable pace. Fans of the Sacramento band will be more than content to wear down this album on the turntable.
And they have—at least in small portions. The album reached number one on the Billboard 200 list, but (as what might be a testament to the music business’ slowdown) sold the fewest copies of any debut number one album in history.
Nonetheless, CAKE’s official rankings couldn’t be further from the minds of the band’s devotees, as their seven-year hunger has been sated, at least for now. However, one thing they do hope is that the next offering will not take the better part of a decade to prepare.