Sound — 6
I have been a die hard fan of this band since the release of Dizzy Up The Girl and then delved back right into their early work (which I am also a big fan of). One thing I seemed to love above all else about this band was the fact that John seemed to put so much effort into his songs and making even overlookable verse lines carry so much depth. Dizzy Up The Girl is among the top 5 softrock albums of the 90's (and is my personal favourite) which was followed up by Gutterflower, which fell slightly short of Dizzy and could be criticized for being a compilation of predictable love songs but did it so well that it grabbed 4 stars from Rolling Stone. Both these albums generated strong hits of songs that were definingly 'goo goo dolls'. This latest installment, however, has seen the band go further from it's melodic-punk rock roots (which then turned to melodic soft rock) to what seems like Rzeznik's attempt to write an alternative rock CD. Instant appeal and catchy melodies are the staple the success of this band and here they seem to be jeticened for the sake of not producing the same album again. It really seems that Rzeznik has gone out of his comfort zone of writing memorable ballads and power pop choruses to write something that is not him and falls remarkably short of even their early work, Hold Me Up and Superstar Carwash. Better Days hold almost no difference to their prior material and all fans will likely enjoy this track. Stay With You is another song which actually does hold the balance between melodic and alternative rock well and is a strong opener, which is followed by Let Love In, another song likely to entice old fans. It was after this second track where I seemed to find myself only enjoying parts of songs only to find a dry verse or chorus on the other end of what I was enjoying. This was my biggest personal problem with this album: that I really enjoyed the verses of tracks like We'll Be Here and Become but found the choruses really dry and dull - a problem never really encountered before after hearing albums full of songs which power from start to finish
Lyrics — 7
John Rzeznik's Lyrics have always captivated me and been one of the strongest elements of their music. While there are moments of gold in places, they fall far below the par that Rzeznik is renoun for. Better Days is a great song, start to finish, but most of the other songs seemed to be written with much less emotion and scope than Dizzy Up The Girl and Gutterflower. There really are moments of gold here like "The ones who frightened I are the truth inside the lie." about the the industrialisation of Rzeznik's home town of Buffalo and "You remain a promise unfulfilled until today" but the majority of the songs feel like they were written in a rush on the bus ride to the recording studio. None the less we still see some of the emotional depth and lyricism which has put Rzeznik on the map as a great songwriter.
Overall Impression — 7
The decision to make an album this is most likely because the band feels the need to reinvent themselves, not just because they'd just be rehashing if they didn't, but because the band members are aging and Rzeznik's good looks to enchant the younger fanbase are finally starting to fade so they are going for a more adult audience, also to fit the profile of an older, mature band. While I understand the move they've taken, and even agree with it, a four year wait has led to an album which seemed to be lacking in depth thought required for such a change. It just scrapes a 7 for me and I can't wait to see what the next album has to offer.