The Goo Goo Dolls are a band that crawled their way up from obscurity to prominence, then nearly lost their fame before making it big again. Their tenth studio album together, Magnetic, is a testament to their staying power.
Right away, the album starts off very well, with a cool piano riff interplaying with the rhythm part in the first single, “Rebel Beat.” It’s a little poppier than I’m used to from them, but I like the flow of the song in general. Lead singer and lyricist John Rzeznik then brings the emotion with “When the World Breaks Your Heart.” Even though songs like this one have been written a million times, Rzeznik can usually make them sound somewhat fresh, because the emotion in his songs always feels like it comes from an honest place. The tight songwriting continues more or less throughout the album, and gives it a nice cohesiveness that makes it fun to listen to.
Magnetic is also no radical musical departure. The band more or less sticks to the same formula that has worked for them for years. But the thing about the Goo Goo Dolls is that they can throw in just enough little changes to hold the listener’s interest through an album, unlike other bands (cough, Daughtry, cough). For instance, while they typically feature acoustic guitar prominently in their songs, they will mix it up and throw some nice electric licks our way on occasion (“Bringing on the Light,”), as well as the synthesizer (“More of You”) or cello (“Bulletproofangel”). Bassist Robby Takac also sings on two of the songs, bringing another wrinkle. Takac was actually the band’s original lead singer in the late eighties, but Rzeznik gradually took over the role.
This holds true with the album’s lyrics as well. Most of the lyrics explore tried-and-true rock themes, such as cutting loose and forgetting your worries, and the nature of love. However, there are phrases inserted into each song that makes the listener think, such as “shut your mouth and know you’re everything to me,” from “Slow It Down,” which I interpreted as a caution against overanalyzing a relationship. The same song also features the lyric “remember our dizzy dance,” which makes me wonder if the song isn’t speaking to the fans in some way, as it is a reference to their 1998 album Dizzy Up the Girl, which contained arguably their most famous song, “Iris.”
In all, this is a solid effort from a solid band, and fits in well with their more critically acclaimed albums. I was never totally into Something for the Rest of Us, probably because of its more somber and sad nature, but it was the right record for the time. Magnetic is much more positive, and more about healing and moving on from troubles, so I think I enjoy it more. Rzeznik is still a peerless songwriter, and the album is tight, cohesive, and enjoyable, so I’d recommend you buy it.
The best tracks from this album are probably the first three:
“When the World Breaks Your Heart” (this isn’t the studio version, but it still does the song justice)
I couldn’t find “Slow It Down” on YouTube, so I guess you’ll have to take my word for it on that one 🙂