Goo Goo Dolls’ deluxe edition of ‘Miracle Pill’ is mixed bag sans surprises

goo goo dolls album review
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Grade: 3.0/5.0

Though the Goo Goo Dolls released their 12th studio album, Miracle Pill, last September, the band intended to keep the flow of catchy, feel-good tracks coming by unveiling three new songs on the deluxe version July 10. The previously unreleased tracks add on to the optimistic nature of the album, but don’t exactly bring anything special to the table. While they serve as a nice extension to the record, which consists of many short, punchy songs instead of long, spiraling ones, the new tracks are all too familiar territory.

Not only does the deluxe version deliver the sentimental twang that made the Goo Goo Dolls famous, but it also loads listeners up with power pop hooks that the band has been experimenting with in an effort to upgrade its music to modern times. While the sound may be different from the Goo Goo Dolls’ previous works, the heart and soul is the same as always.

Miracle Pill, overall, is an excellent effort on part of the Goo Goo Dolls to stay true to their ever-positive and compassionate philanthropy. Guitar-driven with prominent drums and clean melodies, the record doesn’t waste even a second with extra fluff. It is far from a futile attempt to regain the adoration of those dissatisfied with the band’s turn to more commercial adult pop. Lead singer John Rzeznik’s voice sounds ageless, just as it did over 20 years ago on the Goo Goo Dolls’ classic track, “Iris.”

The first of the three new tracks is “Tonight, Together,” picking up where soaring song “Think It Over” left off. “Tonight, Together” borders on a power ballad, but causes the record to lose some steam due to its lack of unique hooks and instrumental licks. The song seems more shallow lyrically compared to the rest of the album, but it’s a light and sappy song, supposedly one intended to simply be enjoyed superficially.

“The Right Track” begins slow and then gains considerable speed, with Rzeznik giving up his position as singer to band member Robby Takac, who boasts a raspier tone in his delivery. With catchy prechorus breakdowns, it emanates tinges of nostalgia while aiming to be a fresh composition. The track redeems “Tonight, Together” with its upbeat message of being “on the right track” and pleasing melodies. Out of the three songs, “The Right Track” fits best into the sonic and lyrical themes of Miracle Pill.

Though it comes last on the record, “Just a Man” is the star of the new songs, a charged, empowering track lyrically set to a slow piano and gentle guitar. “I’ll decide just who the hell I am/ I’m just a man,” Rzeznik sings as a call to action for those listening to push back against adversity and whoever tries to break them down. The song is also a vessel for the Goo Goo Dolls to assert that they are fully aware of who they project themselves as and that their identity is changing for the better, whether or not everyone believes it.

Songs on deluxe editions of albums often aren’t successful in adding any substantial improvements to the quality of the album and don’t do much else than giving the band an excuse to rerelease its previous work in a feeble cry for attention. On Miracle Pill, the three tracks are a much-welcome extension to the album, but fail to both fully capture the essence of the rest of the record and to present a novel, truly innovative addition to the Goo Goo Dolls’ acclaimed discography.

While the tracks don’t necessarily elevate the album, they do hold some merit in the form of catchiness and generally amiable nature. Still, none are quite the showstoppers that capture the charm of the 1990s Goo Goo Dolls we all hoped they’d be. All they represent is tangible proof that the Goo Goo Dolls simply had something more to say.

Pooja Bale covers music. Contact her at [email protected].