DIZZY UP THE GIRL
The Goo Goo Dolls
For a band that's expected to make the leap from underground buzz band to rock 'n' roll superstars, the band's sixth album is resoundingly ordinary.
It contains no brave new sound, no big statements, no shocking parental-advisory explicit lyrics - just lush, well-written, straight-ahead rock songs whose edges have been sanded down for easy access into pop radio. So welcome to the top-40 fold, band with ridiculous name.
The Buffalo, New York, trio's punk roots are barely showing on Dizzy Up the Girl, in stores yesterday. They're evident mainly in singer John Rzeznik's occasionally sneering style, with much of the rest having been dyed in stuffy production and orchestral gloss. Even the driving guitars in otherwise powerful songs like Full Forever and Bullet Proof sound a little too smooth. It might be an interesting development - a hallmark of maturity - but perhaps disappointing to fans expecting the band to really let loose.
On the plus side, a confident and uncontrived pop sensibility prevails. Like what happened to bands like Soul Asylum, where uncharacteristic songs became defining hits, it would be easy to imagine that Dizzy Up the Girl was shaped by the tunes that thrust the Goo Goo Dolls into the mainstream to begin with: Name, the mellow single from the band's last album, and Iris, from the blockbuster City of Angels soundtrack album. It's the highlight of this album, too, an infectiously catchy and dramatic song that definitely reveals a rootsier, more sensitive side of the band. You've no doubt heard it a few times on the radio.
There's more like it here. Black Balloon, one of many songs that focus on the emotional trials of a mystery woman (the "girl," presumably, who's being dizzied up), features an epic, U2-like quality.
A jangly heartland vibe can be heard in the opening song, Dizzy, and in Slide, one of the strongest songs on the record.
But there's still a sense that Goos played it safe, that they missed the opportunity to stretch on what is practically assured to be the biggest album of their career.
And that's a little worse than daring to alienate longtime fans who expected punk and got pop instead.