Album Review

Cake, 'Showroom of Compassion'

January 10, 2011

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The sixth record from Californian arch indie foils Cake brings up a lot of questions right off the bat, like “Wait, Cake has six records?’’ The band, now recording in its own studio and releasing albums under its own power, has proven oddly irrepressible over its near 20-year end run around convention. Everyone knows the hits, of course, spoken-word gems like “The Distance,’’ “I Will Survive,’’ “Never There,’’ and “Short Skirt/Long Jacket,’’ largely because they’ve proven to have such surprising staying power on modern rock radio. Add the latest, “Sick of You,’’ to the queue. It’s a winner in the classic Cake mold, with a stripped-down and dirty guitar hook, flourishing horn fanfare, and John McCrea’s trademark half-sung, disaffected vocals. Opener “Federal Funding’’ follows in that vein, with its clever take on the perils and pleasures of the academic grant-application process, of all things. Sounds like fun when put this way, actually. There’s more than just the “Cake’’ sound here, however, with forays into Beatles-esque day-tripping and mariachi-style border-jumping broadening the sonic scope and serving as a testament to how the band has stayed viable, one-trick pony misnomer to the contrary. (Out tomorrow) LUKE O’NEIL

ESSENTIAL “Sick of You’’

Cake plays the Citi Wang Theatre on April 22.