When I first heard this album I was highly impressed
with the range of musical style
s, the use of unique vocal
melodies and most of all the skillful syncopation
and unexpected rhythm
s of lead singer John McCrea's voice
Since Cake is one of the few bands today who's lyrics I can easily understand without the use of liner notes, my opinion of the album soured significantly upon further listenings as I became more and more familiar with the subject matter.
As cool as these songs are, I couldn't help thinking that they sounded like the work or tortured misogynist fourteen-year-olds. And this album had so much potential. Here is my song-by-song breakdown:
- Frank Sinatra: One of my favorites on the album. The eerie emptiness of the organ and simple drum sticks is a grabbing opener, and almost suggests the emptiness of deep space, where, if we listened very hard, we could still hear Old Blue Eyes today.
- The Distance: Another very cool song. The pounding instrumental atmosphere is a great contrast for the more reserved Frank Sinatra, and the change in tempo raises the energy level a few notches.
- Friend is a Four Letter Word: This is the first break-up song on the album. I think its strength is that it provides another change up in musical style. The very organic sounds of the guitar and back up vocals gives the song a sense of simplicity and honesty, whereas the two before carried just a slight hint of cynicism and doubt.
- Open Book: I think that this is musically the strongest song on the album. It showcases both the vocal and instrumental talents of the band, its structure is complex, unusual and interesting and it shows yet another, angrier, emotional] facet to Cake's sound. The lyrics too, are very well done, and I think that it tells the most interesting story on the entire album. Note that here we are first introduced to the "She" character that shows up several times throughout the album.
- Daria: This song leaves me somewhat unimpressed. The introduction and verse are well paced, but the chorus is awkward and somewhat forced. It also becomes fairly apparent that this is another angry relationship song. Ho-Hum.
- Race Car Ya-Yas: I like this one. ". . . the land where large, fuzzy dice still hang proudly - like testicles from rearview mirrors . . ." MirrORs. Strange and fun, this is yet another change-up in sound.
- I Will Survive: Unbelievable. Gritty, ironic and perfect for the times. Note especially the kickin' baseline and John McCrea's rhythmic gymnastics. (He stays almost exactly 1/8 beat behind for a significant portion of the song. Try it some time ; )
- Stickshifts and Safety Belts: What a fun song. Sing it to your SO, they'll think its sweet.
- Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps: Uh, oh, danger Will Robinson. This song is slow, predictable and not very interesting. The attempt at a cha-cha thing is half hearted. And this is another break up song.
- It's Coming Down: Oh boy, *another* breakup song. This one is even less interesting. The only bright spot is the line ". . . she's gone, and she's wearing you red sweater." (Note, here we are talking about "She" again.)
- Nugget:Wow what a weird one. I think I'd appreciate it more if it weren't sandwiched between Coming Down and . . .
- She'll Come Back to Me: Okay Okay OKAY! I get it - there was this really nasty breakup and it really sucks, so stop TELLING me about it.
- Italian Leather Sofa: Alright, I have a LOT of problems with this one. First of all it is musically so ill suited to be the second-to-last song on the CD. It tries to be grandiose, complex and powerful but it is none of these things. There are at least three other songs that would go GREAT in this slot, God knows why they put this one right here. Second of all not only is it ANOTHER FUCKING BREAK UP SONG, but this one contains, in my opinion, disturbing misogynistic imagery: again we're talking about this person referred to only as she, her breasts bouncing, her "serrated edge" moving back and forth. Thinking about that makes me feel icky. This song might have worked in other places on the album, but after spending 45 minutes bitching about "she", this song just crosses the line.
- Sad Songs and Waltzes: Another break up song. Boring. What a let down.
Now that I got that out of my system
, I propose that you buy
this album, rip
it and then burn the tracks in a different order
. This is what would work for me, but as always YMMV
Yes, I left out Friend. Because I don't like it
. But I think this order has a much better feel to it - more uplifting, and it gets all the morose break up crap
out of the way early.