Learning The Hard Way
The album starts with what might be its best song. Learning The Hard Way has strong introspective lyrics and a really catchy ring. Robin Wilson’s strong vocals and Valenzuela’s strong guitar work are the basis of this song, while the rhythm in the drums & bass are really keeping the whole thing together. This great, forth-flowing sing-along is ready to be put on the radio.
Come On Hard
The sensitive pop song Come On Hard has a good catchy rhythm and a nice pop melody, but it has to compete with so many other songs in the same genre that it might not surface on radio, even though it is one of the better pop songs of the year. The strong lyrics are brought to life with passion and energy.
“Major Lodge Victory” continues strong with Someday Soon which is a little differently paced and gives way for the band’s strong vocal harmonies and songwriting, which strongly remind of Crowded House, and I don’t compare a band to that standard lightly. The addictive and intriguing arrangement of Someday Soon deserves to be recognized as a modern-day pop gem, and hopefully it will.
Heart Shaped Locket
Heart Shaped Locket has a bit of a standard pop build up, but the enthusiasm and strong execution of the pop hooks in this song, make it fun to listen to and a slightly alternative edge to the song makes it stronger as well.
The End Of The World
The more americana/rootsy The End Of The World has a nice melody and the beautiful melodic pop lines wonderfully coincide with the musical harmonies in the song, making this an instant highlight on this strong album.
Long Time Gone
The fast-paced rhythm of Long Time Gone creates the driving force in this song. There’s a bit too much presence in the guitar department at times, but the song itself really does a good job of standing strong. The forward movement in the song with the released energy in the chorus makes for a very enjoyable ride.
Super Girl is a pretty soulful pop song with some influences from free rhythmed rock & jazz even. It reminds me of David Beebee a little though I doubt there’s any influence that way. The song is strong but not the strongest on the album. It’s a very decent effort and Gin Blossoms brings their talents to the listeners’ attention.
Let’s Play Two
The uptempo Let’s Play Two would be a good radio single because it is very catchy and it rolls on very well, and sticks in your head like a bee to honey. The strong pop sense of the band has proven to be the basis of another great catchy pop song that can easily meet up with anything else that makes radio airplay.
Curious Thing isn’t the most refreshing song in the history of music, but I can’t help but like it very much. It is one of my favorites on the album, because the band builds up the song so well, and the vocals are really strong. The lyrics are in synch with the music and the band just did this song with heart. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Jet Black Sunrise
The vocals on Jet Black Sunrise are astonishing and the folky undertone & lyrics are subtle yet very refreshing and Gin Blossoms come with a pop song in the tradition of Matchbox Twenty and Better Than Ezra though slightly less rock & roll-like, and this is where the band really shines. It’s not their most catchy approach or their most radio friendly effort, but it does show the pop sensibility and melodical sophistication of the band which becomes apparent in Jet Black Sunrise.
Fool For The Taking
The radio-friendly Fool For The Taking opens with an American Hi-Fi like sound, and the powerpop feel of the song keeps a presence all through the song. It reminds me of the Allison Road era and it has the same kind of pop quality that connects with the casual radio listener and the deeply connected pop music fanatics. Fool For The Taking (maybe together with the album’s opener) might be the band’s chance to claim back their spot on the radio.
In what seems no time at all we’ve reached the last track on the album. The easy-to-the-ears pop of the Gin Blossoms is like a warm blanket surrounding you and keeping you safe. That blanket only gets warmed more by California Sun as the sweet pop song brings this great album to an appropriate end. Gin Blossoms leave us with a folk/pop song that could’ve come straight from the 70s (Eagles, America, etc.) and it makes you smile.
While all the songs on this album are once again very well-written and composed and absolutely radio-friendly, I doubt it’s gonna provide for the band’s big break. While Hey Jealousy & Allison Road are songs that everyone knows and songs like Learning The Hard Way, Come On Hard, Curious Thing & Fool For The Taking might achieve the same thing, Gin Blossoms never really made it as big as they should have. I doubt “Major Lodge Victory” will make that happen, but the band once again proves they are one of today’s finest bands in the genre.