Showroom of Compassion
I love Cake. Vocalist John McCrea’s speak/singing and the trumpet of Vince DiFiore have made Cake one of the most original bands of the past two decades. Originally, I thought they came off as really boring. I thought McCrea sounded like he was stuck in a cubicle and was droning on about TPS reports. But the more that I have listened to them over the years, the more they have grown on me. Cake is not a band that will jump right out and grab you. They are an acquired taste, but once it is acquired, you never lose it. And that’s a good thing. Their latest, Showroom of Compassion, is an album that could actually gain new fans as well as please the die-hards. This is quite possibly the best album they have made.
“Federal Funding” follows the Cake tradition of killer opening tracks (“Opera Singer” on Comfort Eagle, “Frank Sinatra” on Fashion Nugget and “Satan Is My Motor” on Prolonging the Magic are my favorites), starting out with “You’ll receive the federal funding/ You can add another wing/ Take your collegues out to dinner/ Have your brother come and sing.” Then DiFiore’s perfectly placed trumpet takes the song and runs with it after McCrea’s trademark “Ya!”
The first single “Sick of You” overflows with the cynicism that the band is known for. Opening with “I’m so sick of you/ So sick of me/ I don’t want to be with you” and following that with a guitar line that is very reminiscent of their breakout hit “The Distance,” this is as angst-filled as you’ll see Cake. It’s perfect.
The band usually includes a short instrumental track and for this album, McCrea wrote a melancholy piano-led track called “Teenage Pregnancy.” It seems like a strange title until you realize that the way the song is pulled in all directions by each instrument is a metaphor for all the directions a teenager is pulled when she becomes pregnant. Just another way that Cake turns you into an active listener.
“Bound Away” is a straight-up country waltz which proves that Cake not only does whatever it wants, but does it really well.
Showroom of Compassion is quite possibly Cake’s best album. Every track is solid and there is something new that is captured with each listen. After almost two decades perfecting their “anti-genre” style, Cake has once again reached their zenith. Each album just gets better and better. Cake fans probably already have this and if you are not a fan, then check this one out. I think you’ll change your mind.