Review Summary: The former punk-rocker trio tries out a new sound after their huge success "Dizzy Up The Girl" and it works extremely with the new rock approach.
Gutterflower by The Goo Goo Dolls
One of my biggest discoveries in the world of music is a tiny little band from the city of Buffalo, NY called the Goo Goo Dolls. I was hooked from the moment I heard the first notes from "Dizzy Up The Girl". It was pure pop/rock awesomeness, probably one of the best pop/rock albums released. With the follow-up, "Gutterflower", the Goo's took on a different approach. Instead of relying entirely on the pop, the latter leans more towards the rock. It was a good call and it's nice that they try to expand their sound even further.
I'm big fan of the Goo's "middle-age" record. "Superstar Carwash" and "A Boy Named Goo" are both solid pop-punk albums and with "Gutterflower" they take the step back in time to these classics. Great rocking tracks are mixed with well written and slow acoustic ballads and the lyrics are always really kicking. About the rocking parts, as usual Goo Goo Dolls fire up their album with a real and alive rock song and "Big Machine" is no exception. Strong guitar work mixed with John's explosive lyrics and vocals. It's a real standout track and the volume is really turned up. It's an awesome rock song and Goo's at their absolute best. Following is a softer track entitled "Think About Me". As I said it's softer than the opener but it still got a rocky undertone, with sliding guitars in the background behind acoustic guitars and John's great singing. The hardest song on the album to place is definitely "Here Is Gone". It is an acoustic full-set track but that doesn't make the track lose its rockiness. It's explosive and unique and a really great song. The first real disappointment of the album is not very surprisingly Robby's first track, "You Never Know". Although slightly better than his average tracks it's really a letdown in comparison to other tracks on this CD.
The CD comes back on track again with another great Rzeznik tune, "What A Scene". Very rocking , a bit twitchy and maybe a bit too long. The song mostly relies on Johnny's singing which he of course handles well. The long ending with na na nana na's could have been left out though. Next it's Robby's turn again with "Up, Up, Up" which actually is a good addition to the record. Great bass and very guitar-driven and loud as usual on Robby's song. His singing here is also worth mentioning, which for once is top notch. Following is a somewhat slower song, at least the verses while the chorus is a little more upbeat. This is actually one of John's weaker moments and even though the song has some great parts (like the bridge that's true genius). The lyrics are well written but the chorus lacks a bit of variation and easily becomes repetive. The only real acoustic song on the album is entitled "Sympathy" and features John on acoustic guitar, some maracas as percussion and Greg Suran (I think) playing some mandolin notes in the background. John has put a lot of effort into this song, which can be heard. The lyrics are exceptional, as well as his guitar work. The whole theme of the song is written in the aftermath of 9/11 and John has said it's one of his most honest songs.
Time for another rocking track, "What Do You Need?". It's rock with an emotional twist. Lyrics such as "Fear makes you fragile darling" and "You're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong..." works well together with the dark undertone. Great instrumentals on this one and the drums are the one that stands out the most. The encore consists of two Robbie songs, "Smash" and "Tucked Away". The first mentioned is very similar to "Up, Up, Up" making it a solid rock song and Takac can really play out his full register on this one. "Tucked Away" is a bit different, although the chorus are very repetive the verses on the other hand works really well. Ending the record is a pop/rock track that can be compared to "Hate This Place", named "Truth Is A Whisper". Truth seems to be the word that John uses the most on this record and the ending track defines this. A line such as ”Always a risk when you try and believe” proves that this track is about honesty and lies. It's an awesome song, with guitar-hooks very unlike the average Goo song. Fast and strong singing by Rzeznik and incredible bridge and guitar solo ends this album with the banner at the top.
In comparison to their earlier work "Gutterflower" stands up to its ancestors and especially "Dizzy Up The Girl". They are about equally good but with two different approaches, while "Dizzy" leans towards more poppy sound "Gutterflower" is way rockier and may appeal some new listeners. After been listening to the Goo's for a couple of years and tends to have grown apart from the pop sound "Gutterflower" is a nice change. Rzeznik and Takac go back to their roots as punk-rockers and have produced some really neat songs. Robby has also written some really good songs that can match some of his previous achievements "Burnin' Up" and "Lucky Star". Rzezniks lyrics are better than ever and the rocking sound doesn't make the emotional feeling suffer. If you liked the Goo's before "Dizzy Up The Girl" you will definitely like this one. If you think "Dizzy" is a bit poppy for your liking this CD might suit you better if you want a solid rock/pop album.
Big Machine - 5/5
Think About Me - 4/5
Here Is Gone - 4.5/5
You Never Know - 3/5
What A Scene - 4/5
Up, Up, Up - 4/5
It's Over - 3.5/5
Sympathy - 5/5
What Do You Need? - 4.5/5
Smash - 3.5/5
Tucked Away - 3.5/5
Truth Is A Whisper - 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5