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The Goo Goo Dolls: Gutterflower

Album: Gutterflower
Label: Warner Bros.

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The Goo Goo Dolls' grueling, decade-long ascent to the top of the pop charts hasn't made it immune to criticism: The Buffalo band has been slagged for everything from co-opting The Replacements' sound to perpetrating the worst case of rock 'n' roll makeup abuse since Look What The Cat Dragged In-era Poison. It hasn't helped that The Goo Goo Dolls' shiny mid-tempo ballads have been crushingly prominent in commercials for goopy romantic dramas, though that hasn't detracted from their status as some of the most irresistible stuff on pop radio at any given time. Love 'em, hate 'em, or hate 'em after years of loving 'em, after 17 years singer-guitarist John Rzeznik and company know how to write a ludicrously glossy, bombastically dramatic power-pop song. And so it goes, yet again, on the band's seventh album Gutterflower, which spits out yet more likely hits ("Here Is Gone," "It's Over," "Sympathy," "Big Machine," and so on) while pausing periodically to pass the mic to raspy-voiced bassist Robby Takac. Nothing here pushes power-ballad buttons quite as overtly as past smashes "Name" and "Iris," but that shouldn't stop Gutterflower's songs from turning up in a Meg Ryan movie or two soon enough. Thanks in part to the unerringly slickening production hand of Rob Cavallo, the album cements The Goo Goo Dolls' place as rock's premier purveyor of music so bright, it positively shimmers.