This is one of Anie’s album reviews. I’ve limited myself to one sentence per song.
Who Should Buy This: Fans of 90’s rock, and people who like “thinking music” that’s also fun to rock out to.
Artist: The Goo Goo Dolls
Genre: alternative, rock
Music Rating: 8/10
Lyrics Rating: 8/10
Sounds Like: Lifehouse, Matchbox Twenty, 3 Doors Down
One Sentence Summary: As a band that’s been around the block a few times, The Goo Goo Dolls understand how to craft specific sounds to suit their needs without compromising their core identity, and “Boxes” is a great example of a modern update with new material that we already know we’ll love.
Best thing About this Album: You get to relive the 90’s music glory days, but with new material that has been slightly modified and custom tailored to help you reminisce without feeling like your music is outdated.
One thing I wish was different: This is going to be random and weirdly specific. I am absolutely in love with the harmonies on “Flood (feat. Sydney Sierota)”, but the first time I listened to it, I misheard the lyrics as “like an ocean running home”. I accidentally became married to the poetic imagery, so now “an orphan running home” sounds –meh– to my brain. It’s merely evocative of a different set of emotions. The imagery that The Goo Goo Dolls used is much more cohesive to the entire album, but I grew attached to the nonexistent version of that line.
Website: The Goo Goo Dolls
This is a playlist of all of the songs from the album that will automatically play through the whole album. To skip to a particular song, click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner.
1. Over and Over*
The music feels like classic Goo Goo Dolls, but modernity makes it seem like a throwback, giving it an instantaneous nostalgic quality as the lyrics seemingly say, “Hello again,” and welcome us back, resuming the musical friendship of Goo Goo days gone by.
Can’t not talk about: Harmonies on point!
2. Souls in the Machine
The music seems to draw on a sort of celtic-rock fusion (which makes me super happy) while expertly crafted lyrics sing an anthem of unity, purpose, and hope.
Can’t not talk about: Can I just type the lyrics for the entire song? Because that’s what I can’t not talk about! Mark my words, you will be hearing more from me on this breathtaking genius!!!
3. Flood (feat. Sydney Sierota)
The music on this track feels quite cinematic with some amazing cello features, sparkling vocal harmonies, and a strong, concrete narrative.
Can’t not talk about: Can I just say how much I love this collaboration? No. I cannot. I love it too much for words.
4. The Pin*
Going back to a more straightforward rock vibe musically, this is a song about a relationship that is so explosive and consuming that his own identity begins to be erased. <–That is a gross oversimplification, but I only get one sentence to explain the whole song.
Can’t not talk about: “First we bend and then we break. I don’t want to be too late to change.”
An impassive electric guitar welcomes you home in a solitary beginning that is slowly built up musically over the course of the track, like a blank canvas turning into a painting or a human life growing, acquiring, and filling up boxes with souvenirs of its own personal humanity.
Can’t not talk about: I wrote a song not too long ago that was quite similar to this conceptually—mine was called “Little Squares” and was a more metaphysical take on the theme. Goo Goo Dolls did it better obvs.
6. Free of Me
Staying true to the 90’s rock musical theme, this song (more than any other track) acts like a musical time capsule or an emotional time machine which you had better believe was a conscious choice to push the narrative of this song in particular, as well as the overarching journey of the album.
Can’t not talk about: Taking this track in isolation, it’s kinda not my favorite. It serves its purpose well in terms of the big picture, but most buildings have stones that help hold up the walls, yet aren’t aesthetically stellar on their own. It’s a great throwback sound, but it (purposefully) doesn’t have the “instant classic” quality to it. I feel like it would’ve done better on its own if it had actually come out in the 90’s. That’s how you know The Goo Goo Dolls did their job though.
A completely updated take on the sound profile from the last track, this song is heartbreakingly beautiful in vulnerable impenetrability.
Can’t not talk about: “A brilliant distraction from all of this deceit” <–While the lyrical content is not in alignment with my usual listening preferences, I don’t think that anyone can seriously argue its genius. This song is absolutely chockfull of “broken glass [that] shines like diamonds in the streets”.
8. Lucky One
The flute/snare combo right off the bat puts me in a colonial-battle-march frame of mind before exploding into a more conventional rock beat in the chorus which is a very fun delivery of the lyrical message, putting a somewhat heightened sense of urgent longing into the plea to remember each other even after separation.
Can’t not talk about: All’s fair in love and war.
9. So Alive*
A soft piano that is instantly evocative of the innocence of childhood dreams introduces the song whose music will span a broad range of emotions and tone as the message of the song carries us through the many stages of life, reminding us that merely not dying is not the same thing as living.
Can’t not talk about: This song is one of my favorites of the album. To me the message is quite evocative of a few other long-enduring classics close to my heart like “I Hope You Dance” and, more recently, “I Lived“, while it shares some common ground with Lukas Graham songs musically.
10. Prayer in My Pocket
The music on this track is not holding back in the least as piano, guitar, and drums all kick it into gear right out of the gate, and ramp up from there with big, brazen 90’s vocals in an unapologetic, anthemic decree of self in a manner that is at times reminiscent of Uncle Kracker.
Can’t not talk about: “I’m gonna find some peace if it drives me mad.”
11. Long Way Home
Lyrics: 8 <–That is for technicality. My heart gives it a 10.
The piano takes immediate center stage before insistent drums and a steady bass join in and then bow out in a constant balance of waxing and waning musical harmony, building the skeletal framework for lyrics that (while not overtly technical) house concepts as decidedly infinite and instantly relatable as the human soul and mind.
Can’t not talk about: That ending, though! It stabs you in the feels with YASSSSSSSSS! (I’m totally literate. I promise. It’s just that sometimes my brain short-circuits on music.)
Conclusion: This album is a modern throwback to some amazing moments in musical history, paired with lyrics that will relate, resonate, inspire, and make one inquire.
Denotes my favorites
* Denotes songs released as singles
Click here to read through Goo Goo Dolls lyrics (including songs from this album).