allstar rating: 6
Goo Goo Dolls
Dizzy Up the Girl
The Goo Goo Dolls' first effort in three years certainly sounds terrific. The trio zig-zags from snappy, spry tracks like "Amigone" and "Slide" to moodier songs like "Black Balloon" and "Iris" (the hit single from the City of Angels "music from" collection) with the confidence you'd expect from a band that's been playing together for 12 years.
Producer Rob Cavallo knows precisely how to highlight the gritty energy of the Dolls' music without damping its pop spirit (see Green Day's Dookie). From the raspy "January Friend" to the pragmatically titled "Acoustic #3," all the sonic nuances are clear and crisp. Yet for all their scruffy charm, these songs come up frustratingly short on character. The hummable allure lacks the kind of compelling emotion that would make them worth listening to more than once. Part of the problem may be a type of musical mid-life crisis.
The Dolls have always packed a scruffy punkish appeal, but it's hard to sustain that kind of unpolished edge as maturity inevitably sets in. So the group seems to be in the process of trading it in for a singer- songwriter strategy. Unfortunately, that's an approach that generally demands that the artist have something insightful to say with his or her carefully constructed songs. Though most of Dizzy aims to convey the kind of pained romanticism that still sustains Soul Asylum, all that comes through is some fetching, fleeting notions of heartache and infatuation. And as beautiful as they may be, they are ultimately only skin deep.
0 -- Sandy Masuo