On comeback albums, many groups take chances or push the limits of their sound. However, the Goo Goo Dolls stay safe on their latest release, Let Love In, offering up another full-bodied collection of palatable, uninspiring pop-rock.

Jessica Boullion
“Boy, I wish we were still relevant.” (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Fans of the band will receive more of what they’ve come to appreciate. The malaised vocal stylings of front man Johnny Rzeznik are omnipresent and subdued, delivering up the ballads unabashedly. The album’s title track exhibits the fullest range of his abilities in a nice package. The tempered intermingling of play-by-numbers accoustic and electric guitar lines mirror the song’s melencholy/upbeat shifts. Haunting, fading synth and a whimsical flute offset Rzeznik in a very catchy manor. The slight instrumental diversity and experimentation here hint at what could have been much more than another album of forlorn whining.

If there are hints, however, there are certainly no answers. Detractors of the Dolls will find more than enough to concern them. “Stay With You” is the prototypical, needlessly extended, heavily-distorted four-chord progression easily marketable as a foot-tap hum or radio play. Cut-and-paste pop-rock lyrics are still the order of the day and litter the album like a middle school poetry hour.

Keeping in tune to the band’s personal pop-revolution, the oddly emphazemic rasps from the jagged Robby Takac are limited to “Listen” and “Strange Love.” Perhaps his voice might be instituted to regain some edge after the accusations of the band’s washed-out mama’s-biscuit sound. These tracks come off more as attempts at personal appeasement than as songs uniquely situated for his sandpaper vocal style. The overwhelming presence of Rzeznik makes Takac’s grabs for the spotlight seem out of place.

Overall, the Dolls latest radio-ready album will appease the devotees. Everyone else ought to find a replacement.

Goo Goo Dolls
Let Love In
Warner Bros.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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