Review Summary: Something for the Rest of Us is another solid outing that will augment the band’s already legendary career.
Is there honestly a person out there that hasn’t, in some way, been affected by the music of the Goo Goo Dolls? If you hadn’t heard of them by 1998, you were treated to Dizzy Up the Girl
, whose popular singles like “Slide”, “Black Balloon”, and “Iris” flooded radio stations everywhere. From there, the band has continued to capture our hearts every four years, with 2002’s Gutterflower
, 2006’s Let Love In
, and now 2010’s Something for the Rest of Us
. To put it plainly, the Goo Goo Dolls have been around for a while. And over the course of that time, their influence has spread far and wide. To the skeptic, this might beg the question, “What more does this band have to offer us?” The quick answer would be more of the same, but you also have to consider if that is necessarily such a bad thing. In the case of Something for the Rest of Us
, it seems that the Goo Goo Dolls have created a cumulative resume of their works to date; and the result is a slick, heavily produced mainstream rock record with all the endearing qualities that we have come to expect from the Goo Goo Dolls.
The band’s ninth studio album is, like past works, a remarkably solid collection of mid-tempo rock songs and ballads. Popular themes are still intact, as Rzeznik woos listeners with his uncanny ability to make every love song sound fresh. There are, however, a noticebale lack of songs with an angrier edge…they have always been few and far between, but on Something for the Rest of Us
they appear to be completely absent in favor of somber yet uplifting ballads. Tracks like “Notbroken” and “Soldier” fit this description, particularly the latter, as Rzeznik pleads:
I know things change, your world has slipped away
I know things change, but you're living like a soldier who's caught in the fray
Don't lose your faith, it's not so cold, it's not too late
These ballads follow relatively generic song structures, with a gentle introduction, increasing drum momentum (this creates a particularly beautiful moment in “Notbroken”), and climactic sing along choruses. This isn’t to say that the musical ideas don’t work, because the Goo Goo Dolls actually execute them quite masterfully. But from an innovation standpoint, it is clear the band would rather continue with their perfected craft than attempt to branch out and experiment. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone, as the Dolls have built themselves quite the niche in the mainstream rock scene over the past couple of decades. With that said, the ballads are thoroughly enjoyable, albeit predictable.
The real gems on Something for the Rest of Us
come by way of the more lively, upbeat tracks. The album’s opening song, “Sweetest Lie” is one of the band’s catchiest tunes to date, complete with giant hooks, hand claps, whoah oh oh
’s, and a chorus that you could recite in a coma. “Say You’re Free” brings a moodier edge to the album, and helps break up the monotony created by the rise-and-fall structure of the abundant slow songs. The lead single, “Home” is another notable highlight. At a first listen, the song may seem simple and generic. However, the instrumental aspects of the song are actually very proficiently executed. It starts with some mid-paced electric guitar picking, as chime like keyboard notes and purposeful drum beats are gradually introduced. Rzeznik also delivers with one of his stronger vocal performances, and when all is said and done, “Home” ends up being a pleasant surprise. As a whole, very few of the catchier upbeat songs on the record disappoint, making Something for the Rest of Us
an enjoyable listen from start to finish.
The success that the Goo Goo Dolls have sustained for so many years has resulted in an innate ability to avoid what you might call “dud tracks” on their albums. One might even listen back on their last ten years of work without finding a single bad
song. In this sense, Something for the Rest of Us
is no different. Each song is able to serve its purpose within the flow of the album while simultaneously standing strongly on its own. You might argue that “Hey Ya” (surprisingly, this is not another Outkast cover) or the title track are comparatively weak when pitted against the album’s better ballads, but no one can argue that there is a lack of talent or musicianship present. The only objective flaw that can be found here, besides the lack of experimentation, is the band’s tendency to rely on ballads to create emotional moments. There are more slow songs than upbeat ones on the album, and at times this tends to make it drag on. The Goo Goo Dolls have definitely proven in the past that they can construct fast, catchy numbers; therefore the noticeable lack of such songs on Something for the Rest of Us
must be due to the current emotional state of the band, or perhaps they were just being self-indulgent and writing whatever kinds of songs they wanted to. Whatever the reason, this album could stand to benefit from more adrenaline-boosting moments to provide contrast to the endless amounts of slow to mid-tempo works.
In the end, Something for the Rest of Us
is another solid outing that will augment the band’s already legendary career. It doesn’t expand on the Dolls’ sound, per se, but it will almost certainly add to their impressive list of hit singles. This album is also among the band’s most easy going efforts, as the solid craftsmanship behind each track makes it quite the enjoyable and relaxing experience…and when you are talking about mainstream soft rock, isn’t that what you really want? Something for the Rest of Us
is a safe album, but also one that will live up to the lofty expectations of die hard Goo Goo Dolls fans everywhere.