Gin Blossoms – No Chocolate Cake (429 Records) – CD review –
If you’d like an entire album full of great songs, look no further.
No Chocolate Cake is only the Gin Blossoms fourth full-length, yet it is easily their best since their breakthrough, New Miserable Experience, some 18 years ago. The disc is 11 more slices of that great jangly pop that made songs like “Hey Jealousy” and “Allison Road,” so irresistible in the early Nineties.
What sets this record apart from their previous attempts at a follow up is the songs; they’re just better. Some credit must be given to Danny Wilde, the former Rembrandt’s singer and writer behind the Friends’ theme “I’ll Be There For You.” He and ‘Blossoms’ guitarist Jesse Valenzuela collaborate on almost half the record, turning in “I Don’t Want to Lose You Now,” which has one of those minor chord changes that will just make you melt. “If You’ll Be Mine” could be the finest ballad the guys have ever written. It’s reminiscent of one of their influences, Badfinger; the chord changes certainly sound like something lead singer Pete Ham should’ve written, plus the echoey guitar solo is lifted right out of Straight Up.
“Dead or Alive on the 405” is a semi-autobiographical tale of how one of the members fared while the Gin Blossoms were on hiatus (“I Won’t Play Mustang Sally!”). The key is, whether upbeat or slow, every song is full of hooks that will get you singing along. After listening to No Chocolate Cake, you may not want dessert, the music is sweet enough. –Tony Peters