Former iconic style eludes The Goo Goo Dolls

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

Alternative rock icons, The Goo Goo Dolls are touring for their 11th studio album, “Boxes,” and will be performing at Chastain Park Amphitheater in Atlanta on Sep. 4. The Goo Goo Dolls is now a duo comprised of lead singer/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac, after drummer Mike Malinin’s departure from the band. “Boxes” was released in May of 2016.

“Over and Over” opens the album with a clean, modern alt rock anthem. The song rides a simple melody and is filled with basic, repetitive lyrics. Johnny’s voice has changed little since the days of hits like “Iris” and “Name.” The track makes use of a softer electric guitar riff layered over acoustic guitar and a rolling bass line in classic Goo Goo Dolls style.

The title track, “Boxes,” has a little more soul than the other songs on the album. It’s a song about family and memories with loved ones. It has a simple stripped down sound for the verses but fills out for the chorus.

The single from the album, “So Alive,” is one of the better songs on the album. It fits right into the current alternative scene in music, with happy lyrics and plenty of reverb for the chorus. It is driven by a bobbing drumbeat in the verses that, again, fills out into the full band for the chorus. The vocals are clear and smooth, and backup singers nicely fill out the background of the track.

Strangely enough, two songs sound remarkably like Bon Jovi songs circa the 2005 album “Have A Nice Day.” “Free of Me” and “Prayer in My Pocket” both have rougher, lower vocals with echoing backup vocals. They both have mildly distorted acoustic guitar and the modernized rock ballad tempo that Bon Jovi brought into the early 2000s. The duo has certainly adapted their sound to match the current generation of music, but they seem to have lost the soul that gave their music the heartfelt effect that made them famous. Their melodies and lyrics feel commonplace and interchangeable with just about any other given band that puts out an alt-rock ballad. It feels like the whole album was written to be a run-of-the-mill track backing some sappy graduation video, or a  modern Christian praise song minus all of the religion.

However, they have been filling out their venues, even selling out in a few cases. They have a known reputation for putting on fun shows, and much of the
music on this album is good for swaying and holding a lighter to at a concert.

The Goo Goo Dolls are very talented musicians and sound great at live shows. And at their worst, fans still have the opportunity to sing along with and relive the classics they are known for.