Gin Blossoms - No Chocolate Cake

by Dan MacIntosh

Sometimes when bands age, whatever magic they had at the beginning begins to fade away. Not so with Gin Blossoms, however. Skip to nearly any of the 11 tracks on No Chocolate Cake, and it is pop music heaven, "Hey Jealousy", all over again.

And just what is that Gin Blossoms magic? It's Robin Wilson's vulnerable vocals and ever-present tambourine. It's guitars that jangle and create heart-tugging melodies. These songs would still sound good coming over the radio, if radio ever gets the clue that there is more to pop music than just Lady Gaga and Drake.

There are a few exceptions to the Gin Blossoms' regular jangle-pop sound. But even these exceptions are great. "If You'll Be Mine", for example, finds Wilson singing in a beautiful Eric "All By Myself" Carmen ballad mode. Elsewhere, the group is at its lyrical self-referential best during "Dead Or Alive (On The 405)" where Wilson sings: "Going in cold on a pick-up gig/And in between classic STYX," while describing the post-hit song lifestyle. "You play your hit from 89/I'll sing mine from 95," he continues.

"I Don't Want To Lose You Now" is perhaps the most perfect Gin Blossoms moment on the disc. The beat is deliberate and thoughtful, as Wilson pleads, "I don't want to lose you now/I promise I'll make it better."

Wilson may have room for improvement with regard to the specific relationship described in "I Don't Want To Lose You Now". But the Gin Blossoms show they are no worse for wear, or in need of any improvement. And just because they may not be the flavor of the week, it doesn't mean this No Chocolate Cake dessert doesn't taste delicious. If this album is Gin Blossoms' birthday cake, they're only getting better with age.

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