One has to feel sympathy for the Goo Goo Dolls. Their songs–reportedly based on personal experience–are rife with tales of distant lovers and doomed romances, they lost out to Celine Dion at the 1999 Grammies and lead singer Johnny Rzeznik was orphaned as a teenager. With their tenth release Let Love In, they offer up another profoundly sad album, one that makes you wonder why no one from the band has wound up dead yet.
One reason, of course, is that the Goo Goo Dolls make good money from their misery. Let Love In is mostly a series of bland retreads from their far-superior 1999 album Dizzy Up the Girl that are quickly forgotten, but it’s poised to succeed nonetheless. The band’s members are lucky they can get away with such laziness, but there are hints that even they might be getting a little bored. It’s telling that one of the album’s most energetic offerings is their take on a song they didn’t write: Supertramp’s “Give a little bit.”
If the Dolls want to live out the rest of their days as a cover band, they’ve earned the right. Alternatively, while bass guitarist and sometimes-singer Robby Takac lacks Rzeznik’s range and polish, the raw honesty and anger in his voice on the two songs he penned — “Listen” and “Strange Love” — suggest another promising direction the band could move in if they found their cajones. Both developments are unlikely, but it’s something for the Dolls to ponder as they cry on their way to the bank.