Cake -- Prolonging the Magic (Capricorn)
by Randy Krbechek
Back with their third album is Sacramento's favorite sons, Cake. Led by singer John McCrea, the band continues down its idiosyncratic, rock-and-kitsch path.
Cake's prior releases include their terrific self-produced debut, Motorcade of Generosity, and 1996's Fashion Nugget, which included the modern rock hit, "The Distance." Recorded in Sacramento, the new album features all original songs (although Cake has recorded deliciously deadpan covers of such songs as Gloria Gaynor's disco anthem, "I Will Survive").
With Prolonging the Magic, two founding members (Greg Brown, guitars/organ, and Victor Damian, bass) have left the group. The current lineup consists of McCrea on vocals and guitar, Vince Di Fiore on trumpet, Todd Roper on drums, and new members Gabe Nelson (bass) and Xan McCurdy (guitar).
The resulting sound is similar to Cake's prior efforts, with McCrea's laconic delivery and De Fiore's tasty trumpet solos. Yet I miss the edgy guitar work of departed member Greg Brown, which played perfectly against Vince Di Fiore's trumpet.
While McCrea maintains his wry wit on Prolonging the Magic, he says he's reining himself back. Explains McCrea, "irony is a really good coping mechanism, but it prevents you from having a complete human experience when there's always a part of you that's snickering. Irony is something in which you recline - it's not something you do out of strength."
With songs like "Satan is My Motor," "Sheep Go to Heaven," and "Alpha Beta Parking Lot," Cake continues its lo-fi trajectory, aiming at slacker targets while developing a country-tinged rock sound. Welcome these Central Valley favorites on Prolonging the Magic.
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-- Randy Krbechek