Review Summary: You can't say there's NOTHING good on here, but dreck certainly makes up the majority of this LP.
2006's Major Lodge Victory is the Gin Blossoms' first album since they broke up after 1996's Congratulations I'm Sorry. Sadly, this time around they reunite without the fantastic drumming of Mr. Philip Rhodes, who, in addition to vocalist Robin Wilson, gave us a reason to still listen to the Blossoms even after the firing and subsequent death of genius lead guitarist and song writer Doug Hopkins in the early 90's.
Uh...where do I start with this one? Wow...This is basically a terrible album with a few good highlights. It's much cleaner and tightlier knit than the grungy, garage rock-esque sound of C.I.S. But what should be an improvement over an album that didn't mesh too well is actually a step in the WRONG direction, as MLV proves to be way too boring.
Let's start with the good news: Singles "Learning the Hard Way" and "Long Time Gone" are great. Basically, a couple 4-star songs with an interesting, consistent sound. "LTHW" harkens back to 60's power-pop. It's EXTREMELY melodic, and there's some great background vocals."LTG" is like a faster version of "LTHW". In fact, I've sometimes gotten the two mixed up, but they're both good songs. That's basically it for the good news.
Now, the bad news: other than "Come on Hard", there really aren't any other decent songs. "Someday Soon" and "End of the World" seem like two songs that should have been good, but just ended up way too boring. They are slow and emotionless. Lead singer Robin Wilson at times sounds like he doesn't know what he's singing, as if he's just in a trance.
For the most part, it just gets worse from there. "Jet Black Sunrise", like "Competition Smile" from their previous album, tries to emulate the electric-on-acoustic sound of their hit "Until I Fall Away". It's a slightly better imitation, but even if it were perfect, it wouldn't matter because this one is just way too depressing. I like dark music, but this song isn't dark, it's just depressing.
Closing track "California Sun" should be commended for good vocals by Jesse Valenzuela, who sometimes sings instead of Robin. Though, the song itself still isn't anything to write home about.
Even worse than everything I've already mentioned, the rest of the album is so bad it's not even worth talking about. You won't have to worry about the other songs putting you to sleep because you'll press the "skip" button before that ever happens.
In closing, I'm a huge Gin Blossoms fan, and have very few of these songs in regular rotation, other than the three specified. It's nice that they were able to sound more polished and step away from their garage rock sound, but there's not much replay value for most of these songs, especially since so many of them are hard to listen to in the first place. I would recommend either individually downloading said tracks or just bootlegging the thing off mediafire because paying 10 bucks for this on itunes or whatever is just not worth it.
Luckily, as I type this, it's 2011 and the Blossoms have already released their followup album No Chocolate Cake, which is vastly superior to this.