Goo Goo Dolls Gutterflower

As the man once said, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and certainly the Goo Goo Dolls have found a formula in the last few years that "ain't broke.” Far removed from their rough and tumble punk rock roots in Buffalo, NY, the Dolls have found themselves the darlings of adult contemporary radio, with gushy power ballads like "Name" and "Iris," and crossover alterna-rock icons, with more upbeat rockers like "Slide" and "Black Balloon." Gutterflower — a Pablo Neruda-coined term for street children — is their seventh album and finds them sticking rigidly to the formula that led to the breakthrough success of their 1998 disc Dizzy Up the Girl. It's soft on the rock and heavy on the jangly balladry. I've long been a fan of the Dolls — Hold Me Up being their definitive album, for its pop-punk sensibility and heart-wrenching emotion — but this disc is evidence that they need to start diversifying a little more if they want to avoid becoming the next Matchbox 20. In an attempt to stick to their formula, Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac's songwriting sounds like it's on auto-pilot — something they used to mock in live shows when they would joke about Phil Collins drum fills. Having said that though, nobody tosses off a big weepy modern rock ballad like these guys, but do we really need almost an entire album's worth of "Iris” sound-alikes? (Warner)