Album Review: ‘Magnetic’ by Goo Goo Dolls
Since forming 28 years ago in Buffalo, New York, Goo Goo Dolls have sold more than 10 million records and have been nominated twice in the Grammy Awards. Their 1998 mega-hit “Iris” lasted nearly a year in the Billboard chart and that is probably one of the songs they are best known for to this very day.
What I can best remember about bands like the Goo Goo Dolls was their distinct alternative sound early on in their careers. Then in succeeding album releases, the band started shifting to a more pop-rock sound that was geared to the teenage demographic which move effectively helped to expand their fan base all over the world. At one point, the Goo Goo Dolls were one of the most popular bands internationally–popular enough that they even got the attention of music aficionados and listeners here in the Philippines with songs like “Iris”, “Slide”, and “Black Balloon” just to name a few of their hits.
Their music was radio-friendly rock that even “conservative” radio FM stations in the Philippines in the late ’90s played their songs. It was because of this that their songs became familiar with the listeners. Their songs had the right amount of sophistication thrown in and it was certainly a plus factor that lead vocalist John Rzeznik has one of the most distinguishable vocals. Furthermore, he can express whatever emotion he wants to convey whether it is a feeling of betrayal, expressing empathy, or going through the woes of another heartbreak. His ability to express an emotion as he sings can be attributed to the fact that he writes his own songs as well.
In my opinion, the Goo Goo Dolls were one of the most formidable rock trios of the mid ’90s to the early 2000s. However, today is already 2013. The recent release of “Magnetic” marks the band’s 10th studio album. A lot of time has passed since then and one is left to wonder what the Goo Goo Dolls can offer us listeners at this late stage of their careers? Can their latest album Magnetic get back some of their former fans that have already moved on and outgrown them? To find out, there is no other way but to listen to the album in its entirety.
Here is my review of the best tracks of Magnetic.
Track.1 “Rebel Beat” — This is currently climbing up the charts and it is the lead single of the album. The lyrics are a tad bit cheesy with some overused one-liners but the production here is what truly keeps “Rebel Beat” from sounding flat and generic. Very modern, upbeat, and perfect for the summer.
Track.2 “When the World Breaks Your Heart” — A mid-tempo rock track that sounds like an “open love letter.” Starts off with a short guitar intro, then the bass line comes in, and the orchestral touches such as the violins combined with the drums pick up the pace of the song. The chorus is not one of the best but the verse does make up for it. The voice of John Rzeznik sounded great here and the choice of arrangement was a nice touch!
Track.5 “Come to Me” — John Rzeznik is rumored to get married soon and perhaps this song is directed to his bride-to-be. Depending on how you interpret the lyrics, you can say that a lot of real life inspiration can be heard here and sincere lines like “I’ll be kind, if you’ll be faithful” and “You be sweet and I’ll be grateful” allude to that. The emotive lyrics of this acoustic track shoot straight to the heart of the listeners.
Track.6 “Bringing on the Light” — An excellent change of direction here, by having bassist Robby Takac take over vocal duties for this track and giving it a more rock edge. Although I do prefer the more polished voice of Johnny Rzeznik over the raspy sounding voice of the bassist, Robby Takac’s vocal work does have its moments of clarity.
Track.7 “More of You” — The only reason I included this track is because the Goo Goo Dolls attempted to get into the whole dub-step movement and they did not sound bad at all in the process but were quite good, in fact. Although I would see this more as an experimental track with John Rzeznik trying his hand on the latest music trends.
Track.9 “Last Hot Night” — Songs like this can really lift up the morale of listeners despite their nationality. This track has referenced a few “real life” situations that other bands can fit into an entire album. The production here was meant to be grandiose and it accomplishes that. My interpretation of the overall message of “Last Hot Night” alludes to the current economic state of America and encourages her citizens to not give up on living the “American” dream. A clearly patriotic song by John Rzeznik showing his love of country.
This is not quite what you would expect from a Goo Goo Dolls album. It does deliver the goods in certain songs and reminds us of the Goo Goo Dolls we all grew to respect in the ’90s but understandably, some of the tracks feel like fillers more than anything else. If you are a longtime fan of the band, by all means, purchase this album to add to your collection. If not, listen to these choice tracks: “Rebel Beat”, “When The World Breaks Your Heart”, and “Last Hot Night.”
With John Rzeznik being 47-years old already, his voice has aged quite understandably, yet it still possesses some younger traits that are familiar to longtime fans of the band. All in all, Magnetic is a commendable effort by the band with a few tracks really living up to the band’s full potential.
My Final Verdict: 6/10