Goo Goo Dolls

ReviewAugust 31, 2005Associated Content

August 31, 2005 by
Al Ebaster

More Punch, Fewer Strings
Gutterflower (2003), the Goo Goo Dolls’ follow-up to their hugely successful Dizzy Up the Girl, is a strong work by a constantly growing and evolving group. This disc comes with fewer strings and more guitars; there’s more punch than its predecessor, from both Takac and
Rzeznik.Takac’s songs stay rooted in the group’s heavier rock sound. His voice is notably different from Dizzy, however; he’s become much raspier and some fans may be turned off by that.Most of Johnny Rzeznik’s lyrics come with more bitterness than in any other album; this is probably a product of his divorce between this album and the one before. It certainly makes for impressive songwriting.“Big Machine,” a radio favorite, is a prime example of the Dolls’ ability to maintain an edge while still achieving commercial success. The strong guitar work isn’t the only part of the track with a bite to it -- the lyrics do as well: “Ecstasy is all you need/living in the big machine now ... Swallow all your bitter pills/that’s what makes you beautiful.”“Sympathy” is Gutterflower’s only acoustic song, driven by mandolin and light percussion. Despite the track’s major sonority, it’s easily one of the most wrenching lyrically. “I’m killing myself from inside out/and all my fears have pushed you out/I wish for things that I don’t need/and what I chase won’t set me free.”Much like Dizzy Up the Girl, some of Gutterflower’s best songs are the ones that are the least known. “Truth is a Whisper” is ghastly, its minor chords forming a chilling framework under Rzeznik’s voice: “Truth is a whisper, only a choice/nobody hears above this noise.”Thankfully, Takac breaks up Rzeznik’s often oppressive songs with much lighter ones. “You Never Know” chugs along in its verses and surges with power chords in its chorus. But while it’s a welcome aural change, the lyrics aren’t without some negativity.While there isn’t quite the commercial material of Dizzy Up the Girl, Gutterflower should be treated as its own album, casting aside some of the more hopeful, longing love songs of the previous album for bitter, painful songs of loss and cynicism.