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The Goo Goo Dolls

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Album Review

Prior to "Name," nobody would ever have picked the Goo Goo Dolls to be stars. Not only were they saddled with a terrible name (there must be worse names in the history of rock, but outside of Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, I can't think of one off the top of my head), they were either seen as lovable ragtag group of ne'er-do-wells (by their fans) or shameless Replacements obsessives (by critics), and both rightly saw the group as simply too modest for the big time. But that modesty paid off, since it was the quality that gave their big hits ("Name" and "Iris") humility. Since they arrived in an era where singles could stay on the charts for a full year, if not more, and stay on the radio for even longer, these two hits gave the impression that the Dolls were bigger stars than they really were, even if they sold many, many copies of A Boy Named Goo and Dizzy Up the Girl. So, Gutterflower, their first album in four years, was treated with the utmost care, crafted and polished on the level of a superstar release — thereby giving a glossy sheen to a record that, at its core, is another Goo Goo Dolls album. Yes, there may be some darker currents roiling underneath the surface in Johnny Rzeznik's lyrics, but when the production glistens like this, it takes some deliberate, intensive listening on the part of the audience in order to discern it. Ironically, that's the good thing about Gutterflower — as it shifts from ballads to chugging, layered mid-tempo pop, with Rzeznik's Paul Westerberg being punctuated every few tracks by Robby Takac's Tommy Stinson (these comparisons, for better or worse, still hold up, well over a decade into the band's career), it all goes down easy, smoother than any other mainstream rock album this side of Matchbox 20. It's so expertly produced, so evenhanded in its sound, that even if the songs sound hooky as they're playing, they're hard to remember once the next starts. This, of course, isn't the same thing as the songs not being memorable, since repeated listens do reveal that both Rzeznik and Takac are in good form (they better be after a four-year lay-off), but the record is so slick, songs don't stand out, and the pain that fuels some of Rzeznik's post-divorce lyrics is dampened by the gloss. Now, the gloss is good and results in a very listenable record, but given the sentiment of the album, that's probably not what the Dolls had in mind when they made Gutterflower. Still, it has given them a good, professional rock record, one that sells their sound as if it was as the most commercial imaginable, resulting in one of their most consistent albums.

Customer Reviews

Wait, what?

Perhaps it didn't strike the iTunes reviewer through their cloud of pretentious indie-rock snobbery, but some people like to listen to an album with a more polished sound, rather than one that sounds like it was recorded with Garage Band in somebody's basement. Having professional-sounding recording doesn't automatically mean the songs are emotionless and dead, as this album readily proves. The Goo Goo Dolls sound their best when given the recording and production values they deserve, and that 'gloss' the iTunes reviewer bemoans is a fundamental part of their unique sound.

The iTunes reviewer might want to put some thought into the concept that stuff like this gets on the radio because people actually want to listen to it. I'm not saying this to denigrate indie bands, some of which are of equal or higher quality than the Goo Goo Dolls or any other popular rock band. But mainstream tastes make sales, and one reason that the Dolls are so popular is their polished sound, one that sits well with mainstream tastes. If more indie bands had the money or backing to produce their music more instead of releasing directly after recording (or after production with inferior software), more indie bands might be able to appeal to a wider audience, instead of a narrow group of people, like the iTunes reviewer, who think that less production = better music.

Great album!

I agree with you fictionalboyfriend! And this album is just awesome !

Love it!

Big machine, here is gone and what a scene are all song that i have been listening to for years, the beat never gets old it's full of energy!


Formed: 1985 in Buffalo, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Early in their career, the Goo Goo Dolls were frequently dismissed by critics as mere imitators of the Replacements; however, they refined and mainstreamed their sound to become one of the most popular adult alternative rock bands of the 1990s, selling millions of records to audiences largely unfamiliar with their influences. That's no knock on the band, either — the music simply improved in craft and accessibility as the years progressed, and radio happened to be receptive to a style that,...
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Gutterflower, The Goo Goo Dolls
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