Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kneejerk: Heart - Goo Goo Dolls

Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...

Heart “Red Velvet Car”

Ann and Nancy Wilson, the real muscle behind Heart, have captivated audiences for decades but haven’t been able to rebound after grunge stomped their brand of high gloss pop rock into the dust. “Red Velvet Car” is not a release that is likely to restore these sisters to the top of the charts, but it doesn’t feel as if they care – sounds like they are just doing what they love. The songs found on this release are more aligned with their less melodious 70s output than the pop perfection that gave their career a second wind in the 80s. Some of the tunes like “There You Go” and “WTF” have a welcoming bluesy guitar sound that revs up your heart, but the record soon flatlines into one disappointing track after another of aimless wandering. Vocally, Ann and Nancy sound terrific, but with no memorable hooks or exciting direction, this is a car best kept in the garage.

Goo Goo Dolls “Something For The Rest Of Us”

I fell in love with the Goo Goo Dolls with the release of 1993’s “Superstar Car Wash” – to this day, it remains my favorite of theirs, and one of my all-time favorite records. But ever since the commercial breakthrough of “Name”, and “Iris” shortly thereafter, this band has never been the same. Instead of trying to be The Replacements, the Goo Goo Dolls now seem content to be a Bon Jovi. Honestly, I’m OK with that - their modern output is more predictable and less energetic, but I have to admit that generally I still like it. What I’m not OK with, however, is the mediocrity that abounds on “Something For The Rest Of Us”. It continues along their recent trajectory, but this time I feel like we’re being served lukewarm leftovers from “Let Love In”, which was pretty tepid to begin with. There are a few sweet morsels, like “Sweetest Lie”, “Nothing Is Real”, and “Still Your Song”, but generally these songs feel uninspired with a lot of style and little substance. Put it this way – most of the songs are as exciting as the cover art.