The Gin Blossoms were one of the more truly damned rock & roll bands to grace the pop charts in the early 1990s. The group was founded and spiritually led by singer-guitarist Doug Hopkins, who also wrote the band's best songs; by the time New Miserable Experience marked the band's major-label debut, however, Hopkins had been kicked out (his bandmates had apparently tired of dealing with his alcoholism). Hopkins killed himself shorly after the album's release, and the band subsequently enjoyed the biggest hit of its career with "'Til I Hear It From You" (which, perversely, never appeared on a Gin Blossoms album, but only on the Empire Records soundtrack). The band dropped from sight not long after.
New Miserable Experience remains the best and most representative document of the group's existence, a tight and lean collection of brilliant, edgy pop music. "Hey Jealousy" and "Until I Fall Away" are the two songs that leave the deepest impression -- and, appropriately, both became major radio hits -- but the crunchy melodicism and lyrical desperation of "Hold Me Down" also leaves an impression. Two dilettantish genre pieces -- "Cajun Song" and a country weeper called "Cheatin'" (as in "you can't call it cheatin' 'cause she reminds me of you") -- provide the program's two low points, but even those aren't completely without charm. [Released in 2002, a deluxe edition of the album featured an entire disc of bonus material, including live tracks and songs from the band's 1991 EP.] ~ Rick Anderson