In the 15 years since the release of their chart conquering Dizzy Up The Girl, the Goo Goo Dolls have remained not only remarkably active, but quietly consistent. While many of their contemporaries, whose songs once found chart success alongside “Iris”, “Slide”, and “Black Balloon”, have gone wayside, this Buffalo group have continued on with success not often seen or heard outside of their long serving fanbase. It has been a good thing for the group, that while those who wrote songs like “Closing Time”, “Flagpole Sitta”, “The Freshman” are long gone, the Goos have managed to adapt their pop-infused rock with enough malleability to stay relevant in the constantly revolving door of mainstream radio programming.
Magnetic, like its predecessor Something For The Rest Of Us, is new Goo. Still entrenched in its rock roots, the pop side of the material delves away being guitar driven (as last heard most prominently on Gutterflower), to more beat-based song structures and more robust production. It’s not surprising that much of the material here then, is sounding the most fresh the band have been in years. “Rebel Beat”, the first single, is indicative of their new found comfort with songs that sound like they weren’t written solely on a guitar (and again on the fuzzed out, beat-driven “More Of You”). The infectious bounce of the song boasts modern pop accessibility, but is still replete with trademark Goo Goo Dolls inflection. In “When The World Breaks Your Heart”, there is a joyous, heart warming glow to the song the band have been chasing for several albums. It is a wonderful feelgood song, with both hope and love as its anchor, buoyed by some of the best songwriting John Rzeznik has done in years.
Musically, much of Magnetic feels like continued growth from what they began in Let Love In and furthered in Something For The Rest Of Us. Alongside the more obvious, there are traces of Americana (in the acoustic tinged “Come At Me”), Superstar Car Wash (Robby Takac’s finely distorted coda of “Bringing On The Light”- perhaps one of the best songs Takac has written?) and conventional balladry (“BulletProofAngel”). Yet there is a balance between the material that previous albums have struggled to find; a tonal feeling, or a mood, absent from the past few releases.
It’s hard to say whether or not the Goo Goo Dolls will ever reach the same heights they did during the close of the 1990s. And as one listens through Magnetic, it is also hard to believe this band has been around since 1986; because so many of their kind burned out so long ago and because the new album sounds distinctly in-tune with the contemporary understanding of popular music. The Goo Goo Dolls have and will always be more than “Iris”. The material that preceded it and the material after is a sign of their long lasting appeal. With the undeniably catchy nature of Magnetic, the appropriately titled album is the sound of a band at their finest. (Warner Bros.)