CD Review of Let Love In by The Goo Goo Dolls

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Let Love In
starstarstarstarno star Label: Warner Bros.
Released: 2006
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The Goo Goo Dolls have come a long way since their beginnings as a young punk rock band from Buffalo, New York. They came of age in the late ‘90s with a string of hits such as “Name” and “Iris” that made them an overnight sensation on the pop charts. But after a mediocre and somewhat sterile showing with 2002’s Gutterflower, singer and songwriter Johnny Rzeznik moved back to Buffalo from Los Angeles and suddenly began to write good songs again. The result is Let Love In, the Goos’ latest release, and while it doesn’t go too far into their punk roots, Rzeznik and company have found their batting stroke again with a collection of strong material.

“Stay With You” is formulaic, but it follows the same formula that has worked for these guys as well as their modern guitar pop brethren, Train. The title track is even catchier, and has the same dark undertone that made Dizzy Up the Girl an instant smash among popsters and alt-rockers alike eight (gasp) years ago. There are two songs on here that were released as early singles – “Better Days,” the hopeful anthem that was used by CNN and others in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and an adequate if pedestrian version of Supertramp’s “Give a Little Bit.”

As with every Goos record, you’ve got your share of songs written and sung by bassist Robby Takac. Takac has the kind of nasally, clown-like voice you just wish would go away, but this time around his songs are really good, especially the driving rocker “Listen.” And at least they only let him sing two tracks. Other standouts are the blissful “Without You Here” and the bitter yet triumphant “Can’t Let It Go.”

There will still be those legions of fans that remember the days of Superstar Car Wash and think of the Goo Goo Dolls as a sellout act. Then again, even after a mediocre offering and the fact that Rzeznik’s neighbors can once again watch him scratch his ass as he goes out to get the Buffalo News, the Goos have remained rock star cool and brought us a solid set of well-crafted rock tunes with Let Love In. Welcome back, gentlemen.

~Mike Farley