Sunday, July 31, 2005

CAKE - Pressure Chief

"We're not joking. There's more hate in our heart than Creed and Nickelback combined. I hear a lot of music and it sounds like monsters. I don't believe it. It's mass-produced, registered-trademark anger.

CAKE is really a reactionary gesture against the sort of big, dumb, fake, angst-ridden rock of the early '90s that I hated, so we just tried to sound as small as possible as kind of a big (screw) you, and then we got criticized by rock critics for having dinky beats. They just didn't get we did it on purpose."

- John McCrea, CAKE

CAKE's 'Pressure Chief' finally arrived last year. And this is one of their best works. An excellent album from start to finish. All tracks are good. I've been listening to this for over a year and still never get tired of it.

We start with a song that will grow on you the more you listen to it, 'Wheels'. Here our hero narrates in the first person: seeing jets flying overhead, a sun going down, and a waiter setting a table just for one. Then he describes how he got there. Taking a plane to a place far away so 'we could be completely free'. Then some more descriptions about muscular cyborg German dudes, sexy French-Canadians and overweight Americans. Until we get to the gut-wrenching clincher, almost a twist ending where he shouts at the top of his lungs "Why you say you... are not in love with me". (gulp)

Then we get to the most addictive song on the CD, the most hated and the most loved at the same time, 'No Phone', a song about cellphones and how the singer feels about them.

I've been on fire
Yet I still say frozen
So deep in the night
My smooth contemplations will always be broken
My deepest concerns will stay buried and unspoken
No phone, no phone
I just wanna be alone today

There's lots other good stuff, as I said every track is good. 'Take It All Away' is a humorous, yet rage-filled breakup song:

Take your economy car and your suitcase
Take your psycho little dogs
Take it all away

'Dime' is a cute song about a dime left on the floor which no one wants to pick up. "I'm a president you don't remember, getting kicked around, not to be dented by a car, by a plane, or anything. Not yet invented." Is this just a song about inflation?

'Carbon Monoxide' has one of my favorite choruses ever, and it was a blast hearing everyone sing "After this my lungs will be so fucked up" out loud at the live concert. John McCrea is said to have wrote this song while waiting for a bus.

'Guitar Man' is a remake of Bread's classic song. How strange for CAKE to cover Bread. But I'm glad they did, and they should release this to radio. I'm convinced it will be a sure-fire hit. You've got to listen to this one.

Skip ahead to "She'll Hang the Baskets" and 'End of the Movie'. Now these are strange songs. I haven't yet figured out what they mean. I like how 'End of the Movie' talks about the people who sit through the credits at the end of the movie.

The last track ends it on a positive note, 'Tougher Than it is'. People always exaggerate things and make things sound tougher than it is. Keep things simple and basic.

Well, there is no such thing as you
It doesn't matter what you do
The more you try to qualify
The more it all will pass you by

The group utilizes more synthesized instruments and less guitar. I read elsewhere that this was intentionally done by the band although they have been criticized for using this popping and beeping sounds as opposed to their more guitar and bass-oriented music of their previous releases. Personally I don't see what the big deal is. It still has the CAKE sound, great lyrics, catchy tunes, occasional trumpet, and monotone-like voice, although there is more real singing and less chanting/monotone here. Recent news is that the band is leaving its label to go independent. Is this the end of CAKE?

If you enjoyed the group's previous work, you will love this one. In fact, even if you hated their previous releases, there may be something here you will like. A must-buy and best album of 2004.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars * * * * *
Take it all away.

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