Review Summary: Cake release a different yet same-y record that is plagued by a few problems but in the end, it ends up like cake, delectable and filling.
Cake, excuse the pun, are quite simply delicious. From their massive pop appeal to their outstanding ability to write songs in a variety of styles, Cake has become massive. They aren’t just a slice of the world’s musical cake anymore. They’ve practically engulfed most of it. Even then, Cake fell off into some sort of obscurity, having been hiding in the shadows for 7 years. It took them time to pull together songs and get in the recording studio. Hey, let’s be glad this did happen instead of Cake becoming a thing of the past. Well they’ve returned, and bigger and (almost) better than ever.Showroom of Compassion
is Cake’s triumphant return, and they’re just as tasty as they ever were.
Showroom of Compassion
is a fairly varied record. A variety of sounds all encased under the Cake banner are displayed throughout. Soaring, melancholic ballads collide with poppier numbers and grandiose Alt-Rock. The opening track, Federal Funding
, is a depressive number with a slinky bass line. It, along with the next 3 tracks, are dark, slightly depressing songs with a variety of elements. Trumpets, Piano, Guitar, Bass, Percussion and all sorts of other instruments get treated to this type of songwriting, leaving a weird feeling in the listener’s brain. Throughout the album, I could feel myself getting slightly more emotional as I recognized the signature sounds of Cake. There are some happy numbers here, but those are few and far between. Mustache Man(Wasted)
and Sick of You
are probably the best songs encasing this element of happiness, blending upbeat guitar melodies with catchy vocal lines and bouncy trumpets. The mix between sad and happy songs is interesting, as it seems that some of the darker numbers just don’t fit Cake.
As always, the traditional Cake sound is there. The loud, slightly fuzzy bass lines, the crashing, explosive guitar playing, the “nerdy” monotone vocals, and all the bells and whistles of additional instrumentation are all present. It’s as if Cake never left music for those seven years. However, some extra changes have been made. The Previously mentioned Federal Funding
rocks some 70’s Folk influences while Easy to Crash
boasts synth lines reminiscent of Electronica. Even modern Alternative music has been taken in, ranging from the sounds of Sufjan Stevens and Coldplay to even Radiohead. Cake took in a bunch of modern influences, and wisely chose to incorporate it into their sound. Hell, even Bound Away
is the closest they’ve come to a sad, beer-guzzling Country song. A lot of things have been kept the same and a lot of things have changed, but in the end it’s all Cake.
The lack of variation in song styles is one of the few visible faults here. The first 4 songs all sound similar, being more like a darker sort of ballad-pop. Also, the lack of memorable songs (save two or three) really hurt this record’s chance of being big. It’s as if Cake didn’t want their previous success they had on earlier records. Still, it’s Cake and it is enjoyable.
Showroom of Compassion is definitely a great record released this early in the year. Not many bands can say they still sound this good after a long hiatus. Some better promotion and a memorable single might’ve helped. Still, just like actual cake, Cake is delicious and should be savored all the way into the end. Stuffing, sure, but you always want more of it. Showroom of Compassion is a pretty good release so far in 2011, and should remain that way for a long time.