It’s safe to say that the Goo Goo Dolls aren’t the same band they were through the late 80s and early 90s. Once angst-ridden, their earliest material was an edgy blend of accessible Replacements-esque rock with punk-tipped rough edges, all in sharp contrast to the polished pop-rock seen from Dizzy Up the Girl and onwards. Yet regardless of their change in musical attitude, the quality sheen that has always been part of their repertoire has remained intact. While Let Love In suffered from a little over production, Something For the Rest of Us is as close to mainstream cohesion as they’ve ever been.
It’s a strong mix of more up-tempo numbers (“Sweetest Lie”, “Say You’re Free”) with big sounding ballads (the single “Home”, “Something for the Rest of Us”) and just enough smooth edges. Ever since “Name”, they’ve perfected pop-rock melancholia, and in “Notbroken”, the Goo Goo Dolls cut a fine image of somber self-reflection to the tune of gushy guitar melodies and piano textures. “Still Your Song” shines a little like “Black Balloon” does, and it’s hard to move past Rzeznik’s oft-heartfelt callings without feeling a genuine connection.
Takac’s contribution to the songlist this time around is again just two songs, but they both add enough contrast to Rzeznik’s cleaner croon. And his track “Say You’re Free” is the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re listening to Superstar Car Wash again.
There are two widely contrasting points to the Goo Goo Dolls spectrum. They were a great garage band whose razor sharp punk-tinged rock carved a sharp edge through those early 90s grunge bands and then there’s the instantly recognizable, radio friendly “Iris” era Goos. It is a path their albums have continued to follow since, and as Something For the Rest of Us proves, it really doesn’t matter if they rarely venture away from familiar territory as their brand of alternative rock continues to be an honest representation of their current musical frame of mind. And this tension-free warmth and guitar-string sincerity is something they have always done with particular success.