Sound — 9
Prolonging the Magic is Cake's third album, the second released on the Capricorn label. Musically, the songs on this album sound similar to Fashion Nugget in many ways, but they are unique in their own way, sort of like a sequel. The main difference is that Fashion Nugget has more slow, downtempo, minor-key songs, while Prolonging the Magic keeps it upbeat and happy for much longer. If you like Fashion Nugget, then you'll probably feel similarly about this album. The guitar parts are mostly simple chord progressions that sometimes become a solo or lead, and though basic, they sound good and are an important part of Cake's sound. The trumpet plays the same roles that it always has and it sounds just as wonderful as ever, even if it doesn't play as often on this album as on others. The bass keeps the backbone of the music consistent, yet does its own thing, not content with simply mimicking the guitar part. Keyboard parts are great, though rare, but really do a good job when they're there (You Turn the Screws, Cool Blue Reason). The drumming is basic, but it gets the job done and doesn't divert much attention from the melodic instruments. Stylistically, Cake is extremely hard to pin down, but some light country influence is seen in a few songs (Walk On By and surprisingly When You Sleep), and every song is distinctively Cake.
Lyrics — 10
John McCrea's unique vocal style is as present as ever in this album, and, as always, it oddly fits really well. On this album, though, he has arguably the most range, switching tones much more often than in other Cake albums (Walk On By, Never There, Alpha Beta Parking Lot are good examples). The lyrics are as clever as ever, with sometimes-subtle sometimes-silly wordplay taking precedence. The vocal harmonies in this album are also a nice touch. While there's nothing as dramatic as It's Coming Down from Fashion Nugget, they're present on almost every song on the album, and give the album a nice touch that makes it unique in another way.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this album is my favorite by Cake, Fashion Nugget following closely behind. Like I said before, this album is more upbeat than Fashion Nugget. This is probably their "happiest" album as far as music goes, which I like, and provides a contrast with the album's lyrics which overwhelmingly deal with loves lost. I like the effect of this, It does delve into slow, minor-key songs on occasion though. Generally, the album's first half is the stronger one by a considerable margin; When You Sleep marks the point where the album loses some of its steam. While nothing past this point (or even this song) is bad at all, they tend to pale in comparison to those first 7 songs. Overall, though, this album is still great in many respects, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes alternative rock or anything by Cake.