More of the Same and That's OK

Pressure Chief (Columbia Records)

By Kory Wilcoxson

Pressure Chief, the fifth release from Sacramento's Cake, sounds exactly like their previous four releases. For Cake fans, that's a very good thing.

The album slides easily into Cake's arsenal, mirroring the laid-back California alt-pop sound that first gained them notoriety. While "Pressure Chief" lacks a radio-ready single like "The Distance" or "I Will Survive," the tracks all draw from thrifty, meandering melodies and singer John McCrea's sardonic wit.

Cake's songs are expert studies in the power of observation, from taking a bird's eye view of everything from relationships ("She Hangs the Baskets," "Wheels") to loose change ("Dime"). McCrea also ventures into the territory of social commentary, decrying technological advances ("No Phone") and pollution ("Too Much Carbon Monoxide"), delivered in his biting, deadpan style.

About the only thing new on "Pressure Chief" is more prevalent use of synth sounds which gives the songs a more textured feel. Otherwise, if you've heard Cake before, you know exactly what you are getting. And that is, indeed, a good thing. ?>