Album Review: Gin Blossoms – Major Lodge Victory

Major Lodge Victory album art

Major Lodge Victory slipped under the radar (landed at #159 on Billboard 200) and quickly disappeared in 2006 but marked the turning point in a log slog back to relevance Gin Blossoms fully enjoy today.

In many respects, Gin Blossoms carried out what very few bands (and none I can think of) have managed to accomplish – a complete and total restart to their career. After experiencing a massive surge in popularity in the mid-90s for their sophomore album New Miserable Experience, Gin Blossoms followed with Congratulations, I’m Sorry broke up a short while later and by all accounts the Blossoms withered away and died.

Then they sprouted new life.

And, just as a newly formed band gets the word out by constantly touring a dozen or so songs, Gin Blossoms toured and toured and toured. I first saw them for free in 2002 at a city fair in Brea, CA and small clubs followed. They proved their mettle live and managed to continually squeeze out the continued popularity of their smash hits from nearly a decade earlier for fans who wanted to relive that part of their lives.

Finally, Gin Blossoms released their first album four years after their reunion in Major Lodge Victory. It sounded nothing like their first three albums and arguably you can probably take the band’s first three albums, compare them to the last three albums, and discover a different band. Well, almost.

Today, Major Lodge Victory is hard to come by as well as buy. You can pay through the nose for the album floating around on the internet but depending on your musical tastes and interest in Gin Blossoms music, finding a copy might be well worth your time and money.

Had Major Lodge Victory represented Gin Blossoms’ debut album and the record executive machine was rolling upon its release in 2006, I have little reason to believe this record would not have gone platinum with many singles blanketing the airwaves. Unfortunately, releasing their first studio album in 10 years, and nearly 15 years after their chart smashing hit, along with a break-up in between then spending a few years or so riding the coattails of New Miserable Experience, I suppose it all adds up to a lost album.

As such, Major Lodge Victory is a wholly underappreciated record that definitively marks the band’s slow rise back into the hearts of those fans who found them in the 1990s and realized Gin Blossoms hardly exemplify a one-album wonder.

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Gin Blossoms Major Lodge Victory Album Review

1. Learning the Hard Way – Melodic, easy listening pop music. The first single off the album, if I recall correctly, starts a track list that hardly seems like a desperate, last ditch effort at reviving the band’s career.

2. Come On Hard – This song made the Top 10 Best Gin Blossoms Songs list for good reason. Listen to that awesome Bill Leen bass line.

3. Someday Soon – A slow and melancholy song, gets a little repetitive at times but highlights the band’s strength in songwriting.

4. Heart Shaped Locket – Power pop at its finest.

5. The End of the World – This song made the Top 10 Gin Blossoms Songs list for good reason. Robin Wilson’s vocals drip a few tears.

6. Long Time Gone – This song made the Top 10 Gin Blossoms Songs list for good reason. Fast paced like “Hey Jealousy” but fully stands on its own.

7. Super Girl – This is such a distinct song, I’d be willing to bet many fans include this as an all-time favorite. Well-written through a casual harmonious stroll.

8. Let’s Play Two – More power pop, maybe more  bubble gum pop. A fun melody, the chorus repeats a bit much and it’s hardly the best song on the album but you won’t skip past.

9. Curious Thing – How do you explain a song that’s so Gin Blossoms but so not Gin Blossoms? This would have been a single had that whole debut album thing I described above happened.

10. Jet Black Sunrise – If you love awesome vocal work, Wilson drives this song nearly on his own though the acoustic strumming fully augments. This song would be great live.

11. Fool for the Taking – More fun power pop and we’re near the end of the album!

12. California Sun – Did you know guitarist Jesse Valenzuela used to be the lead singer? He’s not bad. Wilson takes a break so Valenzuela can tap into his inner front man.

Most if not all of these songs would work very well live. Major Lodge Victory bridges the original Gin Blossoms to their current direction in rock music. Gin Blossoms played just a handful of songs off Major Lodge Victory on ensuing tours then seemingly forgot about them shortly later, though for the 25th Anniversary tour of New Miserable Experience they welcomed a few to the setlist.

But I think they owe it to themselves and to the album by tapping into Major Lodge Victory a bit more and recognize this record for what it is – a new lease on life that injected some spirit into the band at just the right time and helped bring them to today.

Grade: A-

Gin Blossoms Major Lodge Victory Track List:

  1. Learning the Hard Way
  2. Come On Hard
  3. Someday Soon
  4. Heart Shaped Locket
  5. The End of the World
  6. Long Time Gone
  7. Super Girl
  8. Let’s Play Two
  9. Curious Thing
  10. Jet Black Sunrise
  11. Fool for the Taking
  12. California Sun