Cake Pressure Chief

[Columbia; 2004]

Styles:  quirk-pop
Others: They Might Be Giants, Soul Coughing

Cake... are they even really a band? Let's really examine this for a second. They have no real peers ( lists the Verve Pipe as a contemporary). They have a vague set of influences, including mariachi and whatever artist yells the word "hey!" a lot. And I can barely comprehend the idea of a band being influenced by Cake.

They exist outside the boundary of the music scene, yet somehow they've infiltrated the system to the point where they are definitely mainstream. Kudos, John McCrea and company. Wear your vaguely Western wear with glee.

And they've infiltrated my record collection. I own every Cake album, and I'm pretty certain I've never even been especially excited about any single one in particular. I feel like Cake just happened to me, like I wake up one morning every two years to find their newest record has made me my morning coffee.

So here we go: 2004 and Pressure Chief has the room smellin' like Folgers. And while the coffee's good, it's good and bad like it always has been. Pressure Chief won't change your mind on the band, although I will call it their weakest effort simply because there's no memorable single like "The Distance," "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," or even "Never There." It's just the fun quirk-pop part with sometimes funny cultural satire of past records that's instantly forgettable.

Pressure Chief sees the band letting the electronic tinkles of Prolonging the Magic and Comfort Eagle become hose-sized streams (kind of like how my lame metaphors of past reviews have now become intolerably awful). And while this can be a welcome addition at times, it tends to distract from the interplay of the guitar/bass/drums/trumpet combo that has always made Cake songs sound so interesting.

But who knows, "No Phone" or "Carbon Monoxide" may catch radio's attention and MTV2 will put the video with Cake all dressed in scuba gear and bowling with dancing toasters on heavy rotation. I honestly hope that happens. I like Cake. Their records wake me up in the morning sometimes.

1. Wheels
2. No Phone
3. Take It All Away
4. Dime
5. Carbon Monoxide
6. The Guitar Man
7. Waiting
8. She'll Hang the Baskets
9. End of the Movie
10. Palm of Your Hand
11. Tougher Than It Is