Though famous, and rightly so, for its mega-hits “Slide” and “Iris,” The Goo Goo Dolls’ Dizzy Up The Girl is a diverse and powerful pop rock album that marks a change in the sound of the Dolls.
While heavier guitars are still featured (particularly on bassist Robby Takac’s songs), strings, acoustic guitars and mandolins take prominence in many of the disc’s hook heavy tracks.
“Iris,” featured on the City of Angels soundtrack, is simply huge. Its intro is modest enough; a few guitar chords are strummed while a mandolin plunks out a simple lead. But through each verse, chorus and bridge, the music swells into a massive pseudo-orchestra, with strings and a guitar solo soaring over the rest of the song.
Though hard to compete in terms of scope or quality, “Slide” comes close to “Iris.” Mike Malinin’s drums drive the song more than anything else (short of Johnny Rzeznik’s astounding vocal work), and all the supporting parts are executed well. While its subject, a pregnant Catholic girl who gets an abortion, may be controversial, there was no dispute over the catchiness of “Slide.”
“Acoustic 3,” apparently featured on Dawson’s Creek, is a remarkable work. Though nothing more than a simple guitar arpeggio, strings and a single vocal line,
Unfortunately, some of the strongest performances never made it to radio. “Bullet Proof” is simply amazing. With a heavy, instrument-by-instrument intro that gives way to Rzeznik’s evocative singing and lyrics, it’s hard to understand why these never gained the same sort of popularity as “Slide,” particularly at the striking chorus: “Would you come my way?/Or did you burn out to the end?/Would you come my way?/Should’ve listened when you called my name.”
Another overlooked, yet brilliant track is “All Eyes on Me.” The light and painfully spare verses give way to choruses that crescendo much like those of “Iris.” Lyrically, it’s stunning as well; when Rzeznik sings “daylight burns your sleepy eyes and/it’s hard to see you dreaming/you hide inside yourself and/I wonder what you’re dreaming,” chills are inevitable.
The only less impressive parts of Dizzy are Robby Takac’s songs. While he keeps the anchor in the Dolls’ former sound, and the songs offer some good contrast with Rzeznik’s tracks, Takac isn’t the group’s best songwriter. Certainly not bad, but not quite at Rzeznik’s level.
Dizzy Up The Girl should be in almost any contemporary music fan’s collection. As well-constructed as it is popular, this is a disc that may never lose its luster.