Before their unexpected hit, "Name", The Goo Goo Dolls churned out continuous releases of snot nosed Replacements imitations (the group's orginial sound was melodic and thrashy, similar to the origins of the Replacements). At least that's how their critics saw them (the group's original name was the "Sex Maggots", enough said). But after "Name", and the single "Iris" which was used for the Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan movie "City Of Angels", the band had refined their sound enough to be enjoyed by mainstream audiences and they became one of the most adult contemporary groups of the 90s. Many of the groups of their time sounded strange becoming mainstream but in the case of The Goo Goo Dolls, becoming a mainstream band actually improved their sound. After the second breakthrough single, "Iris" spent a mindblowing 18 weeks at number one on the Billboard airplay chart it was nominated for three grammys. It was in the middle of this airplay marathon that the group released their album "Dizzy Up The Girl". It sold three million copies. The group's transformation into the mainstream was complete.
The Goo Goo Dolls' mainstream sound is a much more mature, polished and overall enjoyable listen than the group's early sound. While this sound will completely throw off listeners who enjoyed the group's early sound, for those who jumped on the bandwagon with "Name" or "Iris", this record is a very worthy choice. As you would expect from a pop-rock record, it's the singles that shine on this album and there is really nothing on this album that tops any of the five singles. The album also does suffer from filler tracks such as "January Friend" but many of the songs that aren't singles are well worth a listen ("Hate This Place" is up there with the better ones).In terms of consistency, this album isn't the greatest, but there is no doubt that anyone who has enjoyed any of the band's mainstream work will find plenty to like on here.
One of the things that has matured best is Johnny Rzeznik's songwriting. Lyrically, his work is excellent and his songs are full of single lines that stay in the listener's head for days and days and although these single lines are great by themselves, the songs are entirely full of them. The themes also manage to be personal without being obnoxious. The lyrics, however are just the tip of the iceberg. The guitar and bass riffs are great and the drums are good without getting in the way. Musically though, this album shines in the way the guitar and string arrangements are so well put together. "Iris" is probably the best example, but there is greatness all through the album on tracks such as "Black Balloon". However, the single best part of Rzeznik's songwriting is the way that he builds everything in the song, (whether it be lyrics, musical arrangements or sustained backing vocal parts) towards an extremely catchy, enjoyable and inspriring chorus. Though it may be slightly overrating him to call him a songwriting genius, he certainly is brilliant. It's just excellent songwriting that is easy to decipher and needs to be heard to be understood.
Despite being a mainstream pop-rock band, The Goo Goo Dolls aren't quite the same as everything else. It could be Johnny Rzeznik's unique style of songwriting, or it could be his great voice that works incredibly in the context of The Goo Goo Dolls, but probably wouldn't work anywhere else. Maybe it's the unique tone of their instruments. Or it could just be their great lyrics. Whatever the case, these guys are more original than nearly any one of their peers. The album's track list is also in a great order. "Hate This Place" sounds excellent as the album's closer.
The Australian release of of the album contained two extra tracks, the first one being "Name" (the band's excellent breakthrough single) which is quite similar to "Iris" and the second one being "Slave Girl" which displays their early thrashy, snotty sound of the group. With this release, most listeners probably won't need to buy anything else from the mainstream era of the group. "Name" isn't officially one of the album's songs, but it is still one of the best on this particular release.
- Brilliant songwriting
- So many catchy hooks
- Good mix of different sounds, while still sounding familar all the way through
- Johnny Rzeznik's guitar and vocal tones are both unique and sound great
- Though there is some filler, there is nothing horrible
- A considerable amount of filler
- The mainstream sound will dissapoint fans of the older sound
- Some listeners may get bored easily
FINAL RATING: 4/5