Review Summary: Robbie Takic should never be allowed near the microphone. Ever.
The Goo Goo Dolls are a band that are now in a state of charming middle aged women out of their size twelve panties, but once they were a band with 90’s alternative sensibilities along the lines of the Replacements (and were once called rip-offs as a result) and were signed to Metal Blade. Honestly, Metal Blade? The home of bands such as Behemoth and Goatwhore used to also be the home of the Goo Goo Dolls? But I digress. Superstar Car Wash
was the last album that showed them fully in the alternative realm, as their next album, A Boy Named Goo
, saw them moving into the more mainstream area where the currently now lay. Superstar Car Wash
shows a band that, while still inconsistent, can crank out very catchy tunes, as long as Johnny Rzeznik is singing.
The number one thing that people notice is that half of the songs are sung by guitarist Johnny Rzeznik and half by bassist Robbie Takac. Also, the song in which Rzeznik is featured tend to be much more melodic, whereas the songs in which Takac sings are more punk in general sound. Also, Rzeznik has a voice that shows true range and abilities, and Takac sounds like he is singing after being tortured by swallowing glass and beaten with a stick. Takac’s inability to sing makes many fans of the Goo Goo Dolls wonder why he is allowed to do so, as songs that sound like they have potential are immediately hindered by him near the microphone.
The guitars are at a place where they sound typical of the time (1993) and yet rise above it in areas, as exampled in a very strong guitar solo in “Domino” and the acoustic melodies in “We Are The Normal” are fantastic. The drumming throughout the album does well to keep the tempo of the songs, but nothing by George Tutuska is particularly ear catching or above the norm of the genre. The bass is actually fairly audible in the mix but does nothing to really stand out.
Of the songs themselves, many stand out, such as the aforementioned “We Are The Normal,” in which the lyrics are penned by Paul Westerberg of The Replacements. Another strong track is “String of Lies” which is very up tempo for a Rzeznik song and features a fast guitar solo in the middle portion. “Falling Down” is an entertaining opening track, with a melodic riff, and it shows off Rzeznik’s vocals very well. Of all of Takac’s tracks “Domino” is the best, being very fast and Takac’s vocals are in sync with the instruments on a level none of his other tracks can match.
All in all, this album is the beginning of the turning point in the general sound of the band, with increased focus on Rzeznik’s vocals as opposed to Takac’s and leaning towards a more melodic sound overall, compared to previous records. The change of vocal focus is a very wise one, as Rzeznik’s vocals are far, far superior to those of Takac’s, and the songs are generally written better around Rzeznik’s voice. Takac’s songs do prevent the album from reaching heights it had the potential to reach, but they would reach those heights with their next album and beyond. Overall, this is a must have for Goo Goo Dolls fans and is one of the better early 90’s alternative albums.