First off, I'd just like to point out that there's something deeply and unspeakably disturbing about a band named Cake covering a song by a band named Bread. Somewhere in France, most of Marie Antoinette must be spinning in her grave. And for those of you who weren't around when the first version came out, the Bread song on the album is The Guitar Man. But, I digress...
You know, it may just be me, but I have no idea what the people who say that this album sounds like the other four Cake albums are talking about. They must not be listening to the same CD that I am. The very first thing I noticed when I put this CD on in my car on the way to work was how different it sounded from what they've done before. For one thing, you're not going to find any country inspired music--unless you preordered it and got the bonus CD with Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town. The music on this CD has a much more urban sounds, with a lot more keyboard and synthesizer. The drums frequently sound as though they're coming from a drum machine, which I suppose they very well could be, given the band's recent turnover in the drumming department. All the same, dedicated Cake fans should immediately notice a difference.
This is not an album with a lot of solid radio tracks, so if you're looking for those, you probably ought to look elsewhere. Wheels and No Phone are both capable, and The Guitar Man has already been there and done that, but outside of those, there aren't really any standouts that will catch your ear the first time you hear them (except for The End of the Movie, and that's more because it has two fewer instruments involved than the rest of the album). While the album is terriffic, it is not swimming in memorable and catchy tunes--consider yourself warned.
Also, to all of the mothers and fathers out there considering buying this for their children, I will warn you know. The dreaded expletive does make a brief appearance on this CD, in the track Carbon Monoxide. Consider yourselves warned as well.
Aside from those concerns, this is still a wonderful album, and easily a step above the band's last effort, Comfort Eagle. I do have problems with the arrangement (I personally mixed the three tracks on Extra Value in with those on this album and moved The End of the Movie to the end of the CD--appropriately enough--to give the thing a real closer, which was a signature from Cake up until their last release), but those are easily remedied with a CD recorder and a little bit of ingenuity. On the whole, this is a different, more mature, less obtuse effort for Cake--the metaphors here aren't nearly as thickly obfuscated as those that you find on their previous efforts.
It may seem that I intend to be critical of the album. I do--there is room for improvement here. However, the things that I'm pointing out should be problematic for only the most dedicated and effective anal retentive personality. On the whole, this is a worthy purchase for any fan of music in general with a broad palette, and a must have for Cake fans. My only real wish is that it were longer--at under forty minutes, this isn't a lot of meat for having waited as long as we have for another record.