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Pressure Chief

Wednesday, Oct 6 2004
OK, we get it: Cake isn't just a novelty act with an irony-spewing, speak-singing frontman. That title went to Soul Coughing, which promptly disappeared in the late '90s as Cake went on to record a string of albums full of funky, chunky tracks featuring John McCrea's arrogant-but-vulnerable deadpan. Pressure Chief delivers more of the same, adding hints of psychedelia courtesy of a Casio keyboard. McCrea's romantic life is still on the rocks, but his love affair with car metaphors continues. Album opener "Wheels" finds the singer's monotone at its most seductive, while the vocals grate like a cat in a carburetor on the wholly expendable "Carbon Monoxide." Shifting gears after a cover of Bread's "Guitar Man," the record drifts into laid-back Jack Johnson territory and closes with some dusty, stripped-down cuts. And though McCrea's silver-tongued rants -- on everything from "muscular cyborg German dudes" to "overweight Americans in patriotic jumpsuits" -- make it safe to start listening to rock lyrics again, Cake doesn't break much new ground here. Die-hards may line up for another helping, but this record won't win the group a ton of new fans.

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Maya Kroth


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