It’s been three years and change since the Goo Goo Dolls’ last album, 2010’s Something For the Rest Of Us. As far as I’m concerned it’s been seven years because that’s when Let Love In was released, and that’s got some excellent songs on it. Last one, not so much. As it happens, even though his band was on top of the world, Johnny Rzeznik was drinking A LOT at the time, and generally a nightmare to be around, and that’s reflected in the album’s overall tone.
Fast forward to Magnetic, released yesterday, and not only has Johnny quit the bottle, but he’s also engaged to be married, and it seems like he’s found his happy gene again, starting with the opener and first single “Rebel Beat”. This is a bit of a change for GGD, in that it has an electronic drum loop on it, but damn if it’s not catchy. This just might be the feel-good hit of the summer. “When the World Breaks Your Heart”, “Slow It Down”, and “Come To me” all share the same soaring declarations of love, yet they each sound different from the other. “And if the world should spin too fast, I’ll slow it down for you” is a line that could easily be on a poster for a Nicholas Sparks movie, but it works because of Johnny’s delivery.
“Bringing On the Light” is one of only two Robby Takac songs on Magnetic, but it is considerably better than anything he’s written since 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl, and quite frankly is one of his best works…period. “Caught In the Storm” tells the all-too familiar tale of the ups and downs in relationships everyone goes through. With its sweeping chorus, and “we’ll get through it” message, it is one of those songs that would be right at home on anything from 1998-2006.
“More Of You” is another stylistic change complete with a gang vocal “Hey”, and really cool keyboard line anchoring the rhythm section alongside Robby and drummer Mike Malinin. This one’s gonna go over big this summer on tour. Ballad “Bulletproof Angel” is “Iris” for the new millennium. There is a gritty weariness in Johnny’s voice on this song that makes it almost majestic. A wise choice for a second single. Guys, get ready for your girls to have this one on repeat…a lot.
“Last Hot Night”, with its echoes of “Stay With You”, is the most upbeat song found here and is definitely my favorite. Robby’s other track, “Happiest Of Days” is an acoustic and string-laden affair that also has a message of love. Again, he knocks it out of the park. “Keep the Car Running”, my other favorite, is a perfect closer for this very upbeat, and rather uplifting album. It was made to be played in your car, with the top down, all summer long. The Goo Goo Dolls have gotten back to what works, and delivered an album that fires on all cylinders. Welcome back, Mr. Rzeznik. You were sorely missed.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Last Hot Night”, “Bringing On the Light”, “Rebel Beat”, “Keep the Car Running”