2006’s hit single Stay With You took but three lines to inadvertently touch upon the current state of the Goo Goo Dolls. As John Rzeznik sang of how “everything shines, but leaves me empty still” it was difficult to avert one’s gaze from the lengthy tailspin the trio have been in since the late ’90s. Whilst the albums have continued to be productive amidst a change that only seems natural after two and a half decades together, it’s an undeniable fact that the Dolls are sorely lacking the rough edge of their earlier releases.
Yet accepting the change from spunky punk-rock young ‘uns to grandiose arena-rocking vets has made the transition a little easier on the band’s heaving fanbase. Whilst studio album number nine does little to test the waters, it does further exemplify Rzeznik’s standing as one of modern rock’s most grounded songwriters.
There’s a blue-collar edge to Something For The Rest Of Us that appeared subtler on 2006’s Let Love In, one that champions through the haze of the album’s glistening production whilst challenging the likes of Bon Jovi for their stadium-swaying mantle.
Everything’s big. Heaving, glowing choruses give way to the odd instrumental, before Rzeznik croons intently about relationships and second chances on Sweetest Lie and As I Am. On lead single Home, the frontman sings of being miles away from a lost love before pleading with her to “come take me home tonight” amongst a shimmering array of guitar chords. Relationships, much as they have with the bands’ previous releases, form the backbone of Rzeznik’s writing throughout the album.
The biggest detraction, as regards the album as a whole, is the lack of any real change of pace. Save for the excellent Now I Hear – sung by bass player Robby Takac – and the effortlessly layered title track, there’s nary a shift from mid-tempo radio-rock to be heard. However, that shouldn’t come as a great surprise to anyone that’s invested time in the post-Millennia Dolls.
As has been the case with most of the band’s recent releases, Takac continues to see a decline in his opportunities at lead vocal. With just two songs to his credit on Something For The Rest Of Us, the album represents the bass player’s thinnest chance to shine yet – not that it detracts from his always faultless work left of centre though.
Producer Rob Cavallo helms his first Goo Goo Dolls record since 2002’s Gutterflower, delivering the musical equivalent of a Michael Bay movie in terms of bluster and pizzazz. Everything sounds slick and huge, a positive that lends itself tenfold to the Dolls’ brand of accessible commercial rock. That it works so well is hardly a surprise; after all, Cavallo has been Green Day‘s go-to guy for the best part of two decades, as well as recently working on new albums from the likes of Paramore, Meat Loaf and Switchfoot.
Something For The Rest Of Us isn’t an album that’s going to turn heads. It won’t gain many new fans, nor will it do much to placate those that’ve turned away over the years. However, the trio have carved a niche for themselves, over the past decade in particular, whereby they’ve claimed the mantle of MOR kings. Something For The Rest Of Us, to its credit, shows little sign of them relinquishing their throne.