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By John Hill, About.com Contributing Writer

Talent shows in the US like American Idol and America’s Got Talent regularly pull in top-notch music acts promoting their newest records. When Goo Goo Dolls appeared on America's Got Talent's season finale to promote their latest single “Home” in September 2010, they started out with the first half of their Top 10 hit from 1998 “Slide.” Viewers might have thought that this was the band’s way to say “we’re back,” but in fact, they have been semi-regulars on the pop charts and Adult Top 40 radio stations for over a decade.

Rzeznik Still Has It

Flash forward to 2010, and that streak continues with their 9th album Something for the Rest of Us. Part of the reason that the performance of “Slide” and “Home” worked so well together live is that the Dolls have not messed much with the guitar-driven rock formula that lifted their first pop hit “Name” to #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 back in 1995. Even back then, it was never hard to picture their music working just as well in a smoky basement club as it would in a large stadium show. Flash forward to 2010, and the band records songs like “Notbroken,” which has a bit of a Snow Patrol sound to it, but still retains the trademark Goo Goo Dolls sound. Much of the credit for that consistency goes to John Rzeznik, whose powerful vocals soar despite a tinge of world-weariness in the delivery. It only takes a line or two of hearing Rzeznik singing to know whom you are listening to.

One thing that Goo Goo Dolls have done well throughout their career is make music that resembles the current scene yet has something distinct that makes it stand out. Their contribution to the City of Angels soundtrack “Iris” was powerful and distinct every time it came on the radio in 1998. On Something, that song is “Hey Ya,” which should not be confused with the Outkast hit. “Hey” has a very somber intro, but takes flight once it hits the chorus. The driving drums push the urgency of the song along while Rzeznik’s vocal delivery has a vulnerability to it that conveys the protagonist’s concern to make sure his love knows just how he feels.

Takac? Not So Much

While the John Rzeznik-fronted tracks show a depth and power that comes from a writer and vocalist who has learned over the years what works for him and his band, the same can’t be said for the tracks where Robby Takac is front and center. Up until “Now I Hear,” the album has a sonic cohesion that makes it a solid listen. However, “Now” and “Say You’re Free,” Takac’s other track, throws the flow of Something out the window. Rather than simply shaking things up a bit, the two songs feel like album cut throwbacks to the earlier days of the band, and they don’t fit in with where the band has ended up.

It's Not Perfect, but...

Despite the occasional detour, the majority of Something thrives due to the dueling themes of uncertainty and hope. No song on the record sums up that juxtaposition better than “Notbroken,” whose main character spends the majority of the song convincing someone that life is still worth living, no matter the challenges we fit. In this day and age where obstacles seem like a regular occurrence, maybe the world needs bands like Goo Goo Dolls to release music like Something for the Rest of Us. It’s not perfect, but its heart is definitely in the right place.

Released August 2010 by Warner Bros.
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