Pressure Chief

Originally released: 2004
Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

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Considering that Cake's best-known songs include a deadpan cover of "I Will Survive" and the cartoonishly inspirational hit "The Distance," it's easy to see why so many of us underestimated this Northern California band. But now that their alt-rock moment is past, Cake's sound is more palatable and kind of small. Their fifth album is full of well-placed synth blips and light funk grooves, and with John McCrea's baritone toned way down, it sometimes sounds like Cake are shooting for the Cars' cold, shiny hooks. But no matter how much Cake are content to be just a quirky little pop band, only a handful of tracks -- including "No Phone" and the surprisingly sweet "She'll Hang the Baskets" -- push pleasure buttons like they ought to. Worse still, a cover of Bread's "The Guitar Man" shows that Cake still have the capacity to annoy.

(Posted Oct 28, 2004)

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