Cake’s new album, Pressure Chief, proves to be no blaring deviation from the unique style that we know and love. Indeed, Cake devotees can rest assured: The trademark catchy hooks and annoyingly easy-to-remember lyrics still hold true in their new CD.

A little less than a decade after their ’96 release of hit song “The Distance,” some minor transformations of style have inevitably occurred in their new album. John McCrea’s toned-way-down baritone and the amusing but banal cover of Bread’s “The Guitar Man” are some definite weaknesses in the new album. McCrea actually sings throughout the album, a change from previous albums’ tendencies toward long breaks of synth blips and funk grooves.

The twanging mixture of guitars and trumpets still keeps Cake kicking with energy. The consistent and somewhat repetitive good sound that Cake is known for has not diminished with the new album, perhaps just altered itself minutely. The once amusingly apathetic, sardonic feel of older Cake albums is replaced with a lighter, more pop sound. Nevertheless, the new album is a variation on a theme and Cake still delivers a new set of unique beats and lyrics.

Pressure Chief will not disappoint diehard Cake fans, but virgin listeners will be left in the dark as to what is so great about this album and/or band. The new album can be truly appreciated only because it reminds us of their better CDs of yesteryear.
[Artsweek thinks Jessica Quick has a distinct advantage over other writers: She copy reads her own work.]