Cake, Comfort Eagle

It's a fair cop to say this album is more of the same, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the innovation of Fashion Nugget isn't nearly as innovative the second time around (the perplexing Prolonging the Magic notwithstanding). There's still snark and satire ("Commissioning a Symphony in C") and odd name dropping ("Meanwhile, Rick James ..." though I like the beat), but they take a backseat to the character studies ("Opera Singer," probably one of the album's most inspired moments, or "Shadow Stabbing") and lyrics which on balance manage to be more thought-provoking than simply perfunctory. Unfortunately, the stylistic variety isn't nearly as sophisticated; the arrangements skew more conventional alternative, and somewhat to its detriment, though John McCrea's vocals still cut effectively through the occasional moments of ennui. Indeed, the standout jam ("Short Skirt/Long Jacket") is really just a bowdlerized "Frank Sinatra," with the same vocal rap but rhythm guitar instead of organ, and his voice isn't enough to save the title track which throws a lot of catchphrases around in a bid for relevance but ends up being aggressive nonsense ("Dude!"). Likewise, the closer "World of Two" almost achieves the stark acidity of "Friend is A Four Letter Word" but its interesting chord choices don't benefit much from the more-of-the-same-style production. I'll give them a pass on this record and suggest at the parent-teacher conference that they're bright and they'd get better grades if they just sat down and did the work. (Content: no concerns.)