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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Goo Goo Dolls

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Goo Goo Dolls-Let Love In (Warner Brothers)

The Goo Goo Dolls have changed a lot over the years.  The early Metal Blade sloppy rock kicks (and inevitable Replacements comparisons) have long since faded away.  Now the band is mostly known for a series of gorgeous radio ballads like "Name," "Iris" and "Black Balloon."

While the band has definitely learned how to craft a slick commercial single, the funny thing is that the band's music has also improved as they moved steadily into the mainstream.  While the snotty punk-poppers of Hold Me Up probably would have been incredulous to think that they would someday be best known for quirky love songs, the band does have an undeniable knack for a pop hook.  However, with the relative failure of their last studio album -- 2002's slightly morose Gutterflower -- the group is in a bit of an awkward position.

Lead singer and main songwriter Johnny Rzeznick actually reacted to this by bringing in a ringer, doing some co-writing and handing over the production reigns to Glenn Ballard (Alanis Morisette, Aerosmith, Dave Matthews Band.)  The other band songwriter Robby Takac, who tends to be more rock-oriented, is relegated to co-writing a couple of songs with Rzeznick. 

The album has been heavily previewed.  Months before the album release, the first single, another gorgeous and moody ballad called "Better Days" became a relatively big hit.  Their hit remake of Supertramp's "Give A Little Bit" is also here (it originally appeared on their 2004 Live in Buffalo CD) and is still a nice pop single -- although, granted, it is so closely carbon copied that it more like a Supertramp single than Goo Goo Dolls.  The band was a lot more adventurous with their covers in their early days, like when they did an off-the-wall take on Prince's "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" complete with lounge singer The Incredible Lance Diamond doing guest vocals.  However, even if this version breaks no new ground, it still goes down easy.

The rest of the album seems somewhat more hopeful than the band was in Gutterflower, but otherwise rather similar in terms of songcraft and catchiness.  They crank things up a tiny bit with the surging current single "Stay With You."  The acoustically based title track and driving anthemic "Can't Let It Go" show the band's mastery of soft pop.  Takac's two songs (co-written with Rzeznick) -- "Strange Love" and "Listen" -- harken back to the band's sloppier more rocking days, and stand out amongst the mid-tempo smoothness of much of the rest of the album.

Let Love In is not necessarily this long-running band's best work, but the band is always worth a spin.   (6/06)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.  Posted: June 21, 2006.

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Copyright 2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.  Posted: June 21, 2006.