August 15, 2022 Goo Goo Dolls – Chaos in Bloom (Album Review)
One of the most influential Alternative Rock groups of all time, the enduring legacy of Goo Goo Dolls rolls toward its fourth decade with Chaos in Bloom, which arrives on August 12, 2022, thanks to Warner Records.
The Grammy Award-nominated Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac have certainly proven their abilities as songwriters. Prolific best friends, the pair has single-handedly crafted some of your favorite radio gems—from 1995’s breakthrough “Name” to 1998’s hit single “Iris” to 2002’s feel-good cover, “Give a Little Bit.” Throughout their career, which began in 1986 in Buffalo, New York, the pair have given all of themselves to recording heartfelt music and touring the globe. And with 19 top singles and over 12 million albums sold worldwide, it has been a burden of great love.
So, what is a beloved duo to do to mark their lucky thirteenth album (well, fourteenth if you count 2020’s It’s Christmas All Over)? Make history, of course! Their first full-length produced by Rzeznik, who previously tackled production duties on 2021’s EP 21, the 10-track Chaos in Bloom is a testament to the duo’s razor-sharp songwriting skills. With an unavoidable influence borne of the pandemic, it is a collection that is composed of both personal asides and societal commentaries, but most of all, love. A reminder to cherish what you have and to be willing to fight for what you love, the material turns toward optimism and empathy in a time of negativity and apathy, choosing not to wallow in the trauma of the past few years.
Because of these themes and their phenomenal soundtrack, there’s a sense of familiarity from the very first notes of Chaos in Bloom. From the sing-along qualities of “Yeah, I Like You” to the earworm “Save Me From Myself,” there’s a 1970’s influence that meanders throughout, all as the Goos craft material that feels immediately classic. And, as always, they shine like diamonds when they take their art to the next level, offering thoughtful social commentaries on tracks like the united front of “Let The Sun” and the initially daunting “Day After Day.”
While it’s no surprise, many will rejoice to hear that the bulk of the album leans toward the more personal end of the spectrum, finding its biggest inspiration in the intricacies of human relationships (“War”). But Goo Goo Dolls has never been a ‘breakup and mope’ kind of group, so they are careful as ever to complement these moments with inspirational intimacy, stadium-ready spectacles, and experimentation. From the Takac-fronted, upbeat funk of “Loving Life” and the initially New Wave-dusted “Past Mistakes,” the duo shares the spotlight as they explore life, love, and what it means to be human in 2022. And for the standout offering “Going Crazy,” they even delve into the chaos inside our bored minds—and tip us off on how to find the cure.
Yet, all good records need that something special to move them into greatness. In the case of Chaos in Bloom, Goo Goo Dolls understand all too well what it takes to create magic. And so they end their latest with a pair of tracks that are guaranteed to be fan favorites, holding a pivotal place within their already extensive oeuvre of material: “You Are the Answer” and “Superstar.” The former embraces all the best of motivational and inspirational feels to pen an ode to each of us and our ability to endure; celebrating the star that shines within everyone. It feels, in some senses, like an Elton John deep cut, while its sister track, “Superstar,” leans more towards Lennon and The Beatles—and giving that peace thing a chance. Each harnesses a beautiful timelessness, sets a truly joyous mood, and turns the spotlight on the audience. Ending your powerful new record with enough of a serotonin boost to power 7.7 billion smiles? Pure Goo Goo Dolls.
When it all comes to its glorious conclusion, Chaos in Bloom feels like time spent catching up with old friends; a visit that has gone by far too quickly and demands an immediate repeat. Like some of the pair’s brightest and most successful work, it is a collection that never mindlessly fills its spaces, rather, it creates a careful balance between the natural highs of life and its doldrums; acknowledging that it’s okay to get lost inside your own head yet reminding listeners to cherish those that know when to pull you out of your own chaos. For this, Cryptic Rock gives the Goo Goo Dolls’ latest 5 out of 5 stars.