CAKE Show­room of Com­pas­sion ( Up­beat Records)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Seven years af­ter the re­lease of its last full-length, 2004’s

Pres­sure Chief, this north­ern Cal­i­for­nia in­die-pop out­fit re­turns with a per­plex­ing col­lec­tion of songs that, while it does con­tain fa­mil­iar Cake-isms — sing-speak vo­cals, funky low bass, and a sprin­kling of cow­bell — fails to de­liver the fury, sar­casm, and sense of mis­chief that fig­ure so promi­nently on the band’s pre­vi­ous re­leases. This is mainly due to a drought of wail­ing horns and gui­tar riffs, which gave many of the quin­tet’s biggest hits their par­tic­u­lar je ne sais cake. Lead singer/vo­cal­ist Jon McCrea seems to be in a rut both creatively and emo­tion­ally, and much of this ma­te­rial suf­fers for it. It’s ob­vi­ous McCrea spent a lot of time with the Bea­tles cat­a­log and var­i­ous other Bri­tish pop records while writ­ing and record­ing this 11-track dis­ap­point­ment in the band’s so­lar-pow­ered Sacra­mento stu­dio. “The Win­ter” more than hints at “Lucy in the Sky With Di­a­monds,” while “Long Time” is an ob­vi­ous har­monyrich ode to “It Won’t Be Long.” What a shame

Show­room was pro­duced in a place called Up­beat Stu­dio, be­cause there is hardly any­thing up­beat about this al­bum, which is drip­ping with mi­nor scales and coun­tri­fied melan­choly. Sound­ing more fu­ne­real than fun, this Cake is un­der­cooked, un­frosted, and ul­ti­mately unin­spired. — Rob DeWalt

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