Cake

Prolonging the Magic

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    5
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Supposedly their attempt to make a smugness- and irony-free album, Cake's third release does hold back the barbs a bit more than usual. And the strain shows. In these guys' hands, love songs without smirks and pop tunes straight up come out forced. So, they often fall back into familiar territory: postmodern takes on postmodern life. Flipping between earnest alt-rock rhythms and jittery, funky jazz that somehow manages to whitewash both styles, Prolonging the Magic works best when Cake lay on the irony extra heavy, or when they make their sober ambitions mesh slightly with the type of smart-ass pop they've based a career on (like the formulaic "Never There"). At least they seem to realize their place in the alt-rock universe as a novelty band with chops, counteracting the genre's overwhelming seriousness with a light dose of heavy-handed yuks.

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