Showroom of Compassion
Talking up a change of direction is a tried-and-tested way of getting people to care about your band, particularly when you haven't released an album in seven years and are still best known for a single that was a hit in 1996 (the alt-rock anthem The Distance). So, predictably, the Cake frontman John McCrea has been doing exactly that ahead of the release of their sixth album, stating that it features... gasp... reverb and acoustic piano. The truth is, Showroom of Compassion doesn't sound radically different to any of the group's previous releases - but that might not be such a bad thing. The bluesy opener Federal Funding takes a potshot at political discourse in the US, but with the same wry sense of humour that fans will expect from McCrea, not to mention an impressive horn section. From the straightforward rock 'n' roll of Sick of You to the Southern-tinged Bound Away, the album also features a greater diversity of styles than any of the group's previous releases. While you may not have been counting down the days until the return of Cake, the 11 songs included here might just make you wonder why you haven't listened to the group for so long.
Also out this week
If you are not yet bored with new bands trying to sound like Joy Division, then check out the second album by the west London rockers White Lies. Coming just 12 months after their debut went straight to the top of the UK albums chart, Ritual offers more of the same, but with a fuller sound (thanks to the influence of the My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins producer Alan Moulder).