The first original album in more than three years from multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated superstars the Goo Goo Dolls, Gutterflower is the follow-up to 1998's massive hit Dizzy Up The Girl. With melodic pop hooks, powerful guitar-driven rock and glorious acoustic outings, Gutterflower is a triumpant mix of songs that build on and surpass the extraordinary accomplishments that precede it.
On the surface, the Goo Goo Dolls' Gutterflower
is a seamless continuation of 1998's Dizzy Up the Girl
, with sinewy guitars; muscular, anthemic choruses; and Johnny Rzeznik's perfectly articulated rasping vocals. But on closer listening, the Goos' eighth album is made of much sterner stuff. Those quixotic, yearning lyrics of yore have taken on a darker cast, no doubt due to Rzeznik's divorce. As a result, Gutterflower
almost has the feel of a concept album about love gone wrong, with Rzeznik providing anxious commentary rife with images of dislocation and agitation. The listener is given barometric readings of the singer's bruised psyche as he attempts to put himself back together again. Luckily, Rzeznik is a clever and facile lyricist with a knack for elevating garden-variety neurosis into a rather compelling soap opera, sketching edgy characters that would feel right at home in David Lynch's world. "Swallow all your bitter pills, that's what makes you beautiful," he advises in "Big Machine," while in "Sympathy" Rzeznik appears to be apologizing to his former wife for his past transgressions, only to lash out with an elegant deftness, chastising her for "all these thoughts you stole from me." While he may have a face like an angel, Rzeznik unleashes a cunning and a fascinating brutish force not seen before, making this a much more interesting album than previous offerings. --Jaan Uhelszki