Goo Goo Dolls - Something for the Rest of Us Record Label: Warner Brothers
Release Date: August 31, 2010
The Goo Goo Dolls had already earned a place among the great rock bands of the last two decades when they released their last album, Let Love In, in 2006. The good grace from their past albums helped many people, myself included, forgive them what was undoubtedly their weakest offering yet, full of tepid ballads, trite lyrics, and some half-hearted rocking that didn't stand up well to their previous records. The band themselves spoke in recent interviews about feeling pressured by their label and producer and being ultimately unsatisfied with the overproduced sheen of Love's songs. The follow-up record, Something for the Rest of Us, is both a response to those frustrations and a disappointing continuation of the watering down of the Goo Goo Dolls' sound begun on the last album.
Johnny Rzeznik's voice is the highlight of the Dolls' music, and this record offers no exception. Despite more than 25 years in the music industry, he still sounds great, whether belting out the chorus of "Hey Ya" or singing the intimate verses of "Nothing is Real". There is noticeably and inexplicably less use of his lower range, a surprising choice given the obvious qualities of his tone in those lower registers on past albums. Unfortunately, the vocal melodies are almost constantly accompanied by dull, uninspired lyrics (there are glimmers of promise throughout) that rank among the Dolls' worst. Rzeznik has what appears to be a bank of metaphors and images about love, loss, and hope that he has combined and reworked over the past two albums that leaves the messages running together and makes it difficult to identify any substantial or impactful lyrical moments.
Similarly, the music on Something sounds like a skeleton of the Dolls' sound, missing the depth and emotional hooks that made their past albums (pre-Love) so attractive. "Sweetest Lie" and "One Night" are both fairly lifeless mid-tempo rockers that lack the energy they try so hard to convey. "As I Am" and "Nothing is Real" sound like Rzeznik on autopilot, like ballads he could have written in his sleep. "Notbroken" attempts to accentuate itself in the most epic way possible by building from soothing verses to inspiring choruses complete with timpani-like drumming, but ends up sounding forced. The production on Something is satisfyingly improved from Love's muddled, reverb-soaked sound, but many of the guitar riffs and layered extra instruments are still overly smooth, simplified, anonymous, and, as a result, boring.
There are, however, several redeeming aspects to Something. "Still Your Song", an unbelievably obvious single choice due to its instantly memorable chorus, is the Goo Goo Dolls at their best. It features an upbeat rhythm and contrasts uplifting melodies with dark lyrics about a lost love from Rzeznik's past, a combination he has mastered as a songwriter and executes beautifully here. Despite its somewhat bizarre choice of central lyric, "Hey Ya" is an outstanding sequel to Love's "Better Days", and in fact outdoes that hit single with its completely earnest delivery. "Soldier" is another highlight, once again uniting melancholy and elation in an unforgettable way, although the song's bizarre key-changing bridge seems horribly out of place. Lead single "Home" is a simple but nonetheless enjoyable standard rock number, setting off dark, pulsing verses with bright choruses.
All in all, Something for the Rest of Us is a mixed bag that is regrettably more bad than good. The songs sung by bassist Robby Takac are as unnecessary as ever, leaving listeners continually wondering what they may have been like had Rzeznik managed their vocal parts. The title track perhaps best sums up the problems with album as it plods along for far too long without providing anything worth a second listen. Still, there are enough bits and pieces of Goo Goo Dolls greatness here to make the album worth a purchase for long-time fans and hint that maybe, just maybe, the band still has another incredible album in them.
I liked Let Love In, it was perfect for my autumn/winter nights. This album has left me dry, despite I liked Notbroken (could've been the 1st single, in my opinion), Still Your Song and Home (could've fit easily on the LLI tracklist). Also I hear some U2 flavor in the gang vocals for Sweetest Lie's chorus. You mentioned Hey Ya as one of the highlights of the album. Well, I think the chorus has the worst lyrics ever: "hey ya, hey ya, you're the only one I want, hey ya, hey ya". I know that Johnny, if he's still the one who wrote one of the best songs ever written, "Iris", can do more than this. By the way, good review.
P.S. They should stop letting Robby Takac sing again in a GGD record.
Are you kidding? Let Love In was a solid record. Even more cohesive than Gutterflower. I like Goo Goo Dolls but this one proves to be a bit generic. Actually, you can wrap Something For The Rest of Us with what you said about LLI.
The good grace from their past albums helped many people, myself included, forgive them what was undoubtedly their weakest offering yet, full of tepid ballads, trite lyrics, and some half-hearted rocking that didn't stand up well to the band's previous records.
I just wanted to second that they stop letting Robby Takac sing, his voice is not suited for the type of music they play. I saw them play a show last night, and the crowd just looked around in confusion on songs where he sang lead.
It's obvious the band is aware of this (hence the prominence of Rzeznik's singing the majority of album tracks), but why let him sing at all? His own personal selfish enjoyment? To look cool in front of his family? who knows/cares.