Showroom of Compassion
Showroom of Compassion, the sixth studio album by Cake, acquired two notable distinctions upon its release: it was the band’s first album to debut at the number one spot on the Billboard 200; while being the lowest-selling album to attain that top spot (at 44,000 copies). Be the latter as it may, Showroom of Compassion contains all the unique style and traits that make the album wholly Cake. Quirky lyrics, syncopated guitar riffs and busy bass lines laid amongst trumpet pronouncements, Moog slices and strategically placed vibra-slaps make for an all around worthwhile listen.
“Federal Funding” sounds as if it could belong on the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, while “Long Time” makes use of every Cake cliché in their book (and heartily welcomed). “Got to Move,” which sounds like a wry mix of “Groovy Kind of Love” and 60s sadness, does grind on a bit. And, of course, what would a Cake album be without them doing a…Frank Sinatra cover (“What’s Now Is Now” – kicked in the pants a bit). “Mustache Man (Wasted),” my favorite song here, grooves out a nice little funky verse that melts into one sweet chorus. If you take the score to Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, chop it up and tape it back together…slightly out of sequence…you’ll have the heavy lumbering instrumental, “Teenage Pregnancy.” “Sick of You,” one of the album’s singles, takes off like a Grand Funk Railroad chart topper. After “Easy to
Crash,” which is not the best tune on album, we hear the vocalizing John McCrea performing an ode to Woody Guthrie with the country waltz, “Bound Away.” The sweet sadness of “The Winter” leaves the listener with one last heartfelt swoon, and the stringed staccato of “Italian Guy” finishes off the album face down.
All in all, Showroom of Compassion is a very good effort (Cake, don’t take so long between albums!). For those that tire of a diet existing of pretentious opuses from super-serious bands, I say let them eat Cake.