Sound — 6
I first heard about the upcoming release of a new Goo Goo Dolls record almost a year ago, when it was expected to be due last February. It was a bad sign (or good, depending how you look at it) when The Goo Goo Dolls announced they'd be heading back into the studio to fix up tracks and delay the release because they deemed the record not good enough for its intended release, so I've had a long time to look forward to this album. It was apparent after the first few tracks that Goo was pretty much attempting to write the same type of music it has been writing for the last 15 years or so, which (to most people except die hard punk fans of the earliest Goo Goo Dolls records) will come across as a positive. However, as I got through more songs, the biggest problem I realized with the album was that something was missing. The melodies just don't seem as catchy, and the overall music just doesn't seem as full. On previous albums, it seemed that they explored using different instruments, such as mandolins (Iris) and flutes (Let Love In) and piano (Real) to get their points across. While this album does feature some keyboard, overall the sound is definitely plain compared to the previous releases. Production is subtly different from their last album, as they switched back to Rob Cavallo who helped produce Dizzy Up The Girl and Gutterflower. Because of this, the overall sound does contain a little bit of that rawness those previous albums had (besides Let Love In, which isn't Cavallo), although not to the extent of Gutterflower.
Lyrics — 7
John Rzeznik sounds as good as he ever did. His lyrics are hit home, they're maybe not as stunning as they are on Iris but they work just fine. His lyrics are simple, but they always are deep and he has the ability to make a connection with anyone who listens to him with his words. I read some interviews from John and Robby Takac saying this album would have more depressing and darker themes, but in that regard it feels just like their previous records did. It might come as pleasant news that Robby Takac is only featured singing on two songs out of twelve (and the songs are really not bad either).
Overall Impression — 6
Overall, it is a decent album. Not a song is bad, but at the same time, I doubt I will listen to this album much more outside of a few tracks. The best song on the album is Soldier, which happens to be the last song, and had it not come on I would've pretty much written the album off as completely mediocre. As I Am has a fantastic introduction that reminds me a lot of the Let Love In songs, I just don't think the chorus lives up to the rest of the song and is a letdown. Home is a pretty interesting song as well. Nothing else really sticks out unfortunately, every other song is not too memorable. If you really want some good Goo Goo Dolls to listen to first, I would suggest listening to Dizzy Up The Girl, Gutterflower, and Let Love In. This album just doesn't really compare to those.