Slow Gin Fizz

Chuck Berry used to write songs with an atlas handy, but Wilson must be suffering from severe post-touring amnesia--he doesn't seem to know where in Sam Hill he is throughout half of this album ("Is this home 'cause I forgot" and "Take the long way home/Just enough to get it wrong," are but two of many, many examples). In the March issue of Request, he even goes so far as to say, "There just aren't that many bands here." You heard right--there ain't that many combos in band-riddled Tempe!

Given all that's happened to him in the last three years, who can blame Wilson for turning a blind eye to the local scene? Imagine yourself if you had a mess of folks in yourCR> hoCR>metown (let alone a great many people outside it) sniping behind your back (not to mention vying for your job), and you get some idea of the uneasiness fueling the confessional "Competition Smile." No wonder the boys seem more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings, as on the playful country-honk of "Memphis Time."

That this isn't the winning ugly album it could've been shows Gin Blossoms are maintaining considerable grace under pressure. And, despite any heady uncertainties, they've still managed to turn in an album likable and low-key enough to break my long-earned fast and make me scarf down New Miserable Experience--and that's a near miracle.--Serene Dominic

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