Hold Me Up

Robbie Goo, a.k.a. Robbie Takac, is one angry, frustrated guy. If his love interest of the moment isn’t moving to another part of the country, another is staying put and still brushing him off. Fortunately for his fellow residents of Buffalo, Robbie plays the bass, not the chainsaw. And with the two other members of the Goo Goo Dolls, he does what many other confused dolts have done over the past several decades: translated his rage into a joyful racket that exemplifies, to quote the late rock critic Lester Bangs’ definition of the best rock & roll, ”passion expressed.”

The Goo Goo Dolls aren’t breaking any new ground on Hold Me Up, their major-label debut after two independent albums. In fact, it could be the first record to induce ’80s nostalgia: Its merge of buckshot power chords, screaming-into-the-microphone vocals, and pent-up love songs brings to mind the guitar-band raunch of such seminal mid-decade albums as the Replacements’ Tim and Husker Dü’s Flip Your Wig. But there’s nothing regressive about the Goos. Hold Me Up has playful dashes of ripsnorting metal (”Laughing,” ”There You Are,” a version of the Plimsouls’ ”Million Miles Away”) and frenzied rockabilly thrash (”Out of the Red”). The Goos have clearly tightened both their writing and playing since the release of their last album, 1989’s Jed. They’re still goofy enough to toss in a crunching remake of Prince’s ”I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” with lead vocal by Lance Diamond, a Buffalo lounge singer. But don’t let that or the trio’s silly name fool you. When Robbie Goo sings ”I wasted a dime and I can’t call you/I’ll spend a lifetime if I fall for you,” and Johnny Goo answers with a sandblast guitar riff, it’s clear that the Goo Goo Dolls are far from a joke. A-

Hold Me Up
  • Music