I was talking to a good friend of mine who shares my love for the band Cake when he said something startling. He claimed that Cake writes the catchiest songs since The Beatles. I immediately racked my brain for an example that would crush his ridiculous musings, but was stunned to find I agreed with him. When I hear a Beatles song, I am forced to drop what I'm doing and sing along. It's not like I have a choice, there's something unexplainable about the Beatles that involuntarily makes you sing along. Cake has this unexplainable virtue as well, and their debut album, Motorcade of Generosity, perfectly encapsulates everything that Cake is.
Cake's sound is as unique as their songs. On every track on Motorcade you'll find John McCrea'a (lead singer/guitarist) deadpan lyrical delivery, and his instantly recognizable slightly distorted acoustic guitar. Greg Brown plays electric guitar and never fails to deliver catchy riff after catchy riff. Vince DiFiore plays trumpet, helping to differentiate the band from other alt/funk bands of the mid 90's.
More important to Cake's music overall is their songwriting. The songs throughout Motorcade are top notch, and there is hardly miss among them. The combination of memorable licks and riffs combined with McCrea's catchy lyrics makes for a rewarding listening experience that is varied enough to keep you interested.
The album starts out with a string of pop songs infused with funky guitar riffs. Comanche has a mexican flavor to it, and Ruby Sees All is the first track to really show off DiFiore on trumpet and Brown on guitar. Up So Close is a slower, sadder song with clever lyrics commenting on how the closer you are to a person the more distorted they become to you.
Pentagram is a classic track and will get anyone smiling. The upbeat tempo and cheerful melody will almost make you forget that it is a song about human sacrifice. Once again, the lyrics are a high point and intertwine brilliantly with Brown's guitar.
The next track, Jolene, is a favorite among Cake fans. It starts with a hauntingly beautiful intro and has some of the most beautiful/bizarre lyrics ever. When McCrea sings "I want to pull you down into bed/I want to cast your face in lead," you understand exactly what he means. The song ends with a delightful breakdown featuring a guest "vocalist" screaming over a funk infused riff-fest.
The next string of tracks, Haze of Love, You Part the Waters and Is This Love are more catchy pop style songs. Is this Love has a particularly notable alternating bass and guitar line. The lyrics are very strong throughout.
Rock & Roll Lifetyle is perhaps the most well known song from the album. It is a very cynical commentary aimed at aging rockers. I Bombed Korea follows in the same idea, as a commentary on the Korean War through the eyes of an aging vet in a bar. It showcases Cake's skill at writing sad songs in an almost ironic, upbeat style. Next up is Mr. Mastadon Farm, a very groove oriented track with strange lyrics. I'm not sure what they're supposed to mean, if anything, and I consider it to be one of the weakest tracks on the album. Many Cake fans absolutely adore this song though.
The last song on the album is also one of the strongest and is a perfect ending. Ain't No Good is one of the catchiest songs ever written and the quirky lyrics greatly add to the song. You'll find yourself humming this song long after the album finishes.
Overall, Motorcade of Generosity is a consistent, varied and catchy album which will hold up after the 2nd, 3rd and 100th listen, and that is why it easily earns a 5/5 rating.