Even if you’re not a Cake fan, you’ve probably heard their idiosyncratic songs on commercials, films, and television shows. “The Distance”, “Never There”, and “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” are some of the band’s best-known singles. Their cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is also well worth a listen.
However, it’s been seven years since Cake has released a new album, and while Showroom of Compassion is compiled of only 11 tracks just over 40 minutes, it was welcomed last week nonetheless.
This sixth studio album became their first to reach number one on the Billboard 200, despite only selling 44,000 copies. It gives listeners similar Cake sounds (horn solos, heavy bass, half-spoken vocals, vibraslap, laid-back tempo) with a few surprises (piano, reverb).
The record begins boldly with the politically satirical track “Federal Funding”. It’s a groovy blend of old and new Cake, with a fuzzy guitar sound, less prominent trumpets, and singer John McCrea sounding as droll as ever. “Long Time” has a slight hip-hop beat, contagious harmony vocals, and sounds incredibly like The Beatles’ “All I’ve Got To Do”.
McCrea sounds especially melancholy on the ballad-like track “Got to Move” with its impressive twisting refrain, while the cover of Frank Sinatra’s “What’s Now Is Now” is a compelling tribute.
“I think people are dealing with mustache issues in our culture. A lot of people grew up with men around them who had mustaches, and I think it’s a therapeutic thing for us to talk about it,” said McCrea, referring to the album’s next track, “Mustache Man (Wasted)”. It’s classic Cake with a catchy beat, cowbell, hand claps, and laughable lyrics.
The next song, “Teenage Pregnancy”, is actually lyric-less, with a piano solo at the start which samples “Moonlight Sonata”. It sounds ominous and the intensity builds as the drums and trumpets blast in. But what’s with the title? “There is indeed a connection between the music and the title, especially in that there is much pulling between opposites, so I thought the title worked quite well,” said McCrea.
“Sick Of You” sounds familiar, since the single was released back in September, and includes their trademark backing-band shouts and a great sing-a-long chorus. “Easy to Crash” is an effortless sounding, laid-back, cool jam, while “Bound Away” could be heard inside a dusty, western saloon. It’s reminiscent of Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs and Waltzes” which Cake covered on their second album, Fashion Nugget.
The record winds down with the mellow trumpets and sleigh bells of “The Winter”, and then comes to a close with “The Italian Guy”. The last track is a whimsical ending to light-hearted and enjoyable album.
Cult-like Cake fans are disappointed with the length of the album, feeling that it’s not monumental enough to warrant a 7 year hiatus. However, others believe it’s well worth the wait, with thought-provoking lyrics, picture-painting details, and mind-melting sounds.
You can see them play these new songs live as Cake is currently on tour, or check some out right here: