The Goo Goo Dolls are another one of those bands that makes a living by creating music that is essentially just unobtrusive. The title of their newest album, “Gutterflower,” conjures up an image that is fairly consistent with my description of the album: material that may have been pleasing at one time, but is now soiled and ready to be discarded.
The brand of music performed by the Goo Goo Dolls, and other artists in their genre is effectively the high school and college market version of Britney Spears and N*SYNC. The lyrics lack substance, and at times they even verge on childish. The music does not evolve, and it often becomes difficult to tell the difference between songs, albums, and, worst of all, bands. The record companies produce these artists as a musical equivalent to McDonald’s french fries. They have a flavor that pleases millions, but they would never be mistaken for lobster.
“Gutterflower” opens with the moody, electric guitar-driven “Big Machine.” Lead singer John Rzeznik, now 36 years old, broods, “I’m in love but you don’t care,” as though sitting under the bleachers at a high school football game after just being dumped.
The first single to be released off of the album, “Here Is Gone,” follows the same old melancholy recipe that made hits of previous singles such as “Iris” and “Name.” Another droning verse precedes that familiar sweeping chorus that assures you that you are not the only one whose heart has been broken before.
About half of the album’s tracks, including “Think About Me,” “You Never Know,” and “Smash,” rely on essentially the same rhythms and nearly the same bass lines. It is a wonder that this album is the first new material released by the Goo Goo Dolls since 1998’s “Dizzy Up the Girl.”
To the Dolls’ credit, the final track on the album, “Truth Is a Whisper,” is the standout. The noisier, more distorted guitar wakes the listener from the slumber induced by the rest of the album with a refreshing dose of rock ‘n’ roll.
In fairness to the Goo Goo Dolls, they are probably one of the better bands in their genre. However, it is time for America as a whole to move beyond this fluffy pop rock that became popular in the mid-nineties as an overreaction to grunge.
I implore music fans to explore as far beyond MTV and Top 40 radio as possible, and discover that there is far better music in existence today than what is immediately in front of us. It is possible for the standards of quality in pop music to return to what they once were, but in order for that to occur, we, as the fans, must demand it.