I confess that I have been a longtime lover of the band Cake. Even after all of these years, that love has only grown stronger. Far from having an exact formula, there are a few things that Cake usually does from album-to-album so fans know what to expect and their latest release, Showroom of Compassion, delivers.
The album is classic Cake. John McCrea is still delivering his lyrics like a beatnik poet and the band is still not afraid to take on many genres of music such as country, ska, funk, rockabilly, pop, and jazz and blend them together to create their signature sound. The band tends to include one cover or more on each album and one instrumental. On Showroom of Compassion, the cover is Frank Sinatra’s “What’s Now is Now” on which the band puts its own unique spin and the instrumental is “Teenage Pregnancy” which perhaps needs no lyrics because the title really says it all. The album also has its share of all the little extra delights in Cake songs that we cherish (heys, oh yeahs, yahs, clapping, whistles, layered background vocals, and vibraslap).
My top picks from Showroom of Compassion are “Long Time,” “Mustache Man (Wasted),” and the radio single “Sick of You.”
Although this album has a lot of the things that make Cake awesome, it seems to be missing the one thing that started to slip away with songs like “No Phone” off the 2004 release Pressure Chief and that is the outlandish, hilarious lyrical wordplay. Songs from previous albums such as “Meanwhile, Rick James…,” “When You Sleep,” “Frank Sinatra,” and “Rock’ N’ Roll Lifestyle” all have the bizarre lyrical concoction that is so appealing to fans. Cake continues to address subjects and topics far outside the norm opening the album with the song “Federal Funding,” but the song is lacking lyrically in comparison with songs from past albums. However, there is a glimmer of that lyrical wordplay in the song “Winter.” Perhaps “missing” is too harsh of a definition. Let’s just say that it’s less prominently featured.
To Cake I say, “Keep up the good work! The music is great! I still love you, but could you please lyrically blow my mind like you did with “Commissioning a Symphony in C?”