GOO GOO DOLLS – Magnetic (2013)
The GOO GOO DOLLS always have been one of the few alternative rock bands worth to listen in my book. Their first albums are quite aggressive, and then in the mid-nineties they changed a little to a more mainstream adult orientated rock which was not bad at all.
“Magnetic”, the band’s tenth album to be released tomorrow, June 11, was supposed to be the recording that could have changed it all for the Dolls. Its orange album artwork features a cigarette-smoking girl dressed in military gear; its slightly warped portrait being the brightest colored artwork that the Dolls have utilized in a while.
Would this change in color also mark a shift in the sound for the Goo Goo Dolls?
Well, that’s a hard question to answer. Lead single and first track “Rebel Beat” certainly gives the indication of a slight change in sound (albeit a small one). The arrangement sounds somehow different, but still is a typical album opener in that it utilizes a nice intro into the upbeat, acoustic guitar driven strumming in the chorus. It certainly doesn’t illustrate the dramatic change that some may have been hoping for, and, it certainly does not end up representing “Magnetic” as a whole.
Throughout the album, instances of a change in the Goo Goo Dolls sound remain small, yet sometimes become extremely evident to a careful listener. On a track like “More of You”, lead singer Johnny Rzeznik ends up sounding more like the Dolls’ radio friends Matchbox 20, and the chorus features the prominent shouting of ‘Hey!’ in the style of some of the bands looking to the Dolls’ place.
It is also tough to see bassist Robby Takac still only gets his traditional two track limit on “Magnetic” even though he has been writing some of the better songs that the Goo Goo Dolls have released recently. But, even Takac shows some changes of his own on “Happiest of Days”, a straight up string ballad that shows off his distinct gravelly voice.
However, for the most part, this new album sits in what has been safe for them and worked for almost 25 years.
“Last Hot Night” is essentially a rewrite of 2006’s album opener Stay With You, “Slow it Down” features their traditional guitar licks and the other Rzeznik written tracks mainly are upbeat, sonically layered, soft rock anthems they’re are known for.
This stickiness in songwriting could come off as being a little mundane for some, but, don’t get the wrong idea: these are solid pop/rock songs that have no real faults other than sounding similar while sometimes getting lost in their own lyrical vagueness.
There are some tracks on this album that even shine through above the other average ones, namely “Keep the Car Running”, a Rzeznik sung anthem that actually hits the mark, and “Bringing On the Light”, which is Takac’s only other appearance on the album, still shows that he has the ability to write tunes that contrast and complement Rzeznik’s slower, more dramatic ballads.
In the end, “Magnetic”, while not life-altering or experimental in any way, is an album that once again shows that the Goo Goo Dolls still have the nerve to do what they have always done relatively well.
Give Rzeznik, Takac and drummer Mike Malanin some credit, the trio as it is has lasted for 18 years (and the band itself has been around for 25) and they keep the machine working.
No one is asking for Goo Goo Dolls to do something completely off the wall, but obviously, Rzeznik’s voice no longer has the same kick as it used to back in the nineties, the guitar work is less intricate, and the drumming is not as hard hitting as it used to be.
But, throughout all the even numbered years gone by, all the predictable track listings, and all the album artworks prominently featuring raven haired girls, the Goo Goo Dolls somehow remain a band that still show a great talent in staying chart and radio relevant just doing what they do best; good mainstream rock.
01 – Rebel Beat
02 – When the World Breaks Your Heart
03 – Slow It Down
04 – Caught In the Storm
05 – Come to Me
06 – Bringing On the Light
07 – More of You
08 – Bulletproofangel
09 – Last Hot Night
10 – Happiest of Days
11 – Keep the Car Running
John Rzeznik – lead guitar, vocals
Robby Takac – bass, vocals
Mike Malinin – drums, percussion
Charlie Judge, Jamie Muhoberac, Korel Tunador – keyboards
Dan Chase – keyboards, programming
Tim Pierce – guitar
Richie English – piano, string arrangements
Paul Buckmaster, Claire Fisher, Kiersten Fisher – strings
Brad Fernquist – acoustic guitar
Derek Fuhrmann – add. guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Jillette Johnson, Alison & Ben Stanton, Andy Stochansky – backing vocals
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