If last year’s hitless retrospective What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce taught us anything about the Goo Goo Dolls, it’s that they’re better off having unplugged their decade-long Bon Jovi schtick. With their 7th studio album, Gutterflower, the Dolls’s generic brand of pop/rock makes one yearn for the prescription strength of Third Eye Blind or Soul Asylum. In fact, Robby Takac’s raspy vocal and Johnny Rzeznik’s tinny guitar licks on tracks like the forgettable “Up Up Up” often sound like a less-potent Soul Asylum. The band is better off with Rzeznik taking an earnest lead on the dark and sinewy “What Do You Need” or “What a Scene,” his edgy lyrics juxtaposed with a signature sing-along hook. But with their hits “Name” and “Iris” lingering in pop’s collective memory, it’s surprising Gutterflower has no built-in power ballad. The closest they get is the midtempo rocker “It’s Over” and the banjo-infused driving song “Sympathy.” As usual, Rzeznik’s lyrics are painfully universal (didn’t “Iris” speak to every grade schooler, high schooler and college student in the nation when the pretty frontman yelped, “I just want you to know who I am?”). Jangly guitars and brooding sentiments abound, the Goo Goo Dolls set out to prove that they can rock but almost completely abandon the softer pop side that made them famous in the first place.
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: