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‘No Chocolate Cake’

On October 4, 2010

Employing the use of simplistic lyrics and basic chord progressions, the Gin Blossoms fall flat with their album "No Chocolate Cake" in more ways than one.

The 90's sensation is most well-known for their 1992 hit "Hey Jealousy" and, unfortunately, hasn't been the same since. The untimely loss of guitarist and songwriter Doug Hopkins is one contributing factor to the decline, and, even though Robin Wilson, the vocalist of the group, is still around, his vocals don't have the same effect in the absence of Hopkins's lyricism. Most of the album consists of slow jam, soft rock that is typical of this group. However, their modernized pop rock sound doesn't seem to have the catchy beat or lyrics of the previous compositions that made them famous.

Wilson sounds off-key, or flat, in many songs and there was also a lack of synchronization in the harmony sections of "If you'll be mine." This lack of quality, which is seen throughout much of the album, is off-putting to most, especially music aficionados and musicians.

The first single off of the album, "Miss Disarray," sounds like nearly every other song on the album, but luckily the singer dropped out of the falsetto register for it. The single was released on Aug. 2, 2010 to radio, but as a habitual radio listener, I have not heard the single until now; astonishingly, the album debuted at number one on Amazon.com.

"No Chocolate Cake" seems to be reminiscent of early Hansen, but without popular appeal. They also include the stereotypical love songs and "bubble gum" positive messages that were prevalent in 90's pop rock.

"Wave Bye Bye," just like its title, hosts extremely simple and mindless lyrics that detract from the overall appeal of the song. It is almost comparable to a modernized "No Rain" by Blind Melon, sans complexity.

Fortunately, the album wasn't a total loss. "I'm Ready" is a song that possesses actual merit and Wilson's voice even reminds me in spots of Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell.

"Dead or Alive on the 405" was another unique track. The single was like 311 meets the Beach Boys with its ska-like sound.

Critic's Conclusion: It might be telling of my own preference, but I feel this album is not something that sounds as if it was produced by professional musicians. It is not even comparable to EP's that are put together in someone's garage.

The simplicity, instead of being a positive attribute like it is for many modern bands, only served as an annoyance that seemed mindless and shoddy. The beat was repetitive and it felt like something one could dance the "Carlton" to. Perhaps the band should consider putting more time into an album before they release it.

It would almost be comparable to bands like Hootie and the Blowfish, Goo Goo Dolls or Simple Plan if it were actually good. If you're looking for something deep or meaningful, it would be wise to look elsewhere.

Track listing:

1."Don't Change for Me" 4:05

2."I Don't Want to Lose You Now" 4:11

3."Miss Disarray" 3:30

4."Wave Bye Bye" 4:07

5."I'm Ready" 4:22

6."Somewhere Tonight" 3:56

7."Go Crybaby" 5:00

8."If You'll Be Mine" 3:14

9."Dead or Alive on the 405" 3:02

10."Something Real" 4:03

11."Goin' to California" 3:44

12."Please Don't Ask Me (iTunes Bonus Track)"

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