Showroom of Compassion

Very few bands can write a song called "Federal Funding" and make it sound funky. Cake is one of those bands. Showroom of Compassion is the band's first album in six years, and while it's true the long wait didn't yield any surprises, it didn't yield any disappointments either. The album offers 11 tracks in signature Cake style: spare, driving tunes; half-spoken-half-sung vocals; ironic, narrative lyrics; grungy guitar; horn backup.

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While this album will sound pretty familiar to fans, there are a few differences in the details. The ethos is a bit less bitter and somewhat more melodic and contemplative. Some tunes are actually bright and sunny, like "What's Now is Now" with its cheery lyrics and disco beat. Piano makes an appearance for the first time on a Cake recording, offering a Chopin-esque introduction to the instrumental tune "Teenage Pregnancy." "Bound Away" delves into the subjects and to some extent the feel of old American folk.

Cake already has a well-defined sound. Showroom of Compassion suggests that rather than simply resting on their laurels, however, the band is still fine-tuning that sound, and still maturing philosophically and musically. Ecologically too: The whole album was recorded using only solar power.

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