Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cake's New Album is Like Chicken Noodle Soup and Dextromethorphan

Some days you want to be nice to yourself. Days, say, when it feels like your lungs are filled with sauna rocks and you're wearing short shorts with wool booties to compensate for sweating that turns to chills. Days when you voluntarily knock yourself out with flu meds because trippy nightmares beat being awake. Days you might not feel like dealing with your supercool blog because thinking and typing at the same time, well that  is some mental Cirque-de-Soleil shit right there.

Hypothetical days like that. Just for instance.

But then, hypothetically, the universe might play along. Like it could put Showroom of Compassion-- Cake's first album since 2004--in your inbox. And then you'd think to yourself through a sedative haze of Theraflu and over-the-counter Russian morphine "Aw hell--Even I can do this right now."

Because has Cake ever made a serious misstep? Okay, each album might harbour a few songs worth skipping, but theirs is a distinctive, consistent, practically foolproof style. And some days--say today-- all I want is something comforting and familiar. Today I wanted the musical equivalent to my favourite old blankie, or my favourite homecooked meal. And this was that--John McCrea's half-sung vocals, cheeky lyrics, funky beats, and the occasional wailing trumpet. It's smooth and cool and makes me feel happy, like my favourite old flask of gin. 

In a healthier state, I might have found myself more disappointed, I suppose. Nearly seven years gone, they might have come back with something different. But apart from a bit of synth dabbling and a turn with a piano, it doesn't feel like they've put much effort into change. 

At the same time, after seven years away, it's just nice to hear that idiosyncratic Cake sound. There are a few duds: Got to Move springs to mind (as much as anything that meh can spring anywhere), and What's Now is Now didn't really flick me. But it's familiar in a good way, and a solidly constructed, as per usual. 

So while I'd normally give a new release a fairly detailed writeup, I can rest easy on my sick bed because it's fucking Cake. It's a Cake album. It sounds like a Cake album. It feels like a Cake album. You'll like it if you like Cake. Cake makes Cake proud.

What else can I really say?

It goes down great with a glass of dextromethorphan.

(The album doesn't drop til the 11th so no one will let me post songs, but you can listen to the first part of most tracks--including my favourite, Mustache Man--on their website. The album is also available for pre-sale there.)

Video for the first single Sick of You:

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