Review Summary: I'll drink enough of anything to make this world look new again.
Being a raging drunk in your late 20’s is equally sad as it is awesome. While most of us red-nosed bottle tippers constantly waver from the euphoria of blasting a few back to the inevitable ass-kicking a hangover provides, we spend much of this time trying to figure out if being an unrepentant soak is as cool as it was in college, and if we are ever going to make something out of ourselves. Most of us get over it. Some drown in a sea of crushing alcoholism. Why is this relevant? Because the Gin Blossoms were a band of raging soaks. Their main songwriter, Doug Hopkins, was kicked out of the band in 1992 for being a drunk amongst drunks, an act devastatingly sad on two fronts. The first is Hopkins, wallowing in the lowest depths of his disease, committed suicide shortly after. The second is Hopkins was a kick-ass alternative rock songwriter, a fact that is utterly inarguable after listening to the Gin Blossom’s 1992 jangly pop masterpiece, “New Miserable Experience.”
In an era where alternative power pop was as common as cocaine in the 70’s, you would have thought the Gin Blossoms would be f*cking legends in their time, and they would have been had Hopkins not taken the train to destination graveyard. “New Miserable Experience” is simply put one of the greatest straight forward rock albums of the decade. Hopkins tortured soul is absolutely plastered across the lyrics of the album, usually either an indirect or direct metaphor to boozing and the simultaneous consequences and awesomeness of it. Actually, it is usually not glorified; it’s just that the melodies on this album are bursting with a syrupy sweet energy that is almost unrivaled. Hopkins might lament that he’ll “drink enough of anything to make this world look new again,” and “there’s no swimming in the bottle, it’s just someplace we all drown,” but you’ll be damned if the melodic hooks exploding out of songs like “Lost Horizons” and “Mrs. Rita” don’t make you feel like you just stepped into a Fatboy Slim video. Translation: the album is morose at its core, but it’s also a sh*tload of fun. A degradation trip disguised as jetting to Jamaica.
Hopkins’ legacy will probably always be “Hey Jealousy,” and if you claim to not like this song a polygraph test will come flying out of nowhere and plant itself directly in you’re a$s. As far as watershed 90’s pop songs go, “Hey Jealousy” stands tall among the titans. In and of itself, this sets a stage for the album, but what’s even more awesome is it isn’t even its best song, which is clearly the erstwhile power pop clinic that is “Found Out About You,” arguably one of the greatest songs of the decade. Hopkins’ journey through disguising pain with hooks that could snare a Brachiosaurus continues on “Hold Me Down” and “Allison Road,” and he finally subsides on “Until I Fall Away,” the real hint that this dude’s pain is probably going to overcome him. Aside from a bit of filler, a common folly of 90’s alt rock records, “New Miserable Experience” stands as an essential 90’s album and remains tremendously, massively, reprehensibly underrated to this day. The themes are not pursuant to letting-it-all rip and having yourself a booze-worthy great time, but Goddamn it if it doesn’t feel that way when you listen to it.