Goo Goo Dolls: It’s Christmas All Over (Universal Music) - review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, November 23rd, 2020  

Goo Goo Dolls

It’s Christmas All Over

Nov 19, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Love them or loathe them, there’s no escaping the much-maligned ubiquitous festive album at this time of year. Yet amongst the overstuffed turkeys, mawkish sentimentality and shameless cash-ins, there have been some absolute classics—from Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You to Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler’s This Is Christmas. Goo Goo Dolls’ Its Christmas All Over, however, ain’t one of them.

With the bands’ live shows wiped out due to the ongoing global pandemic, Goo Goo Dolls decided to record a festive album, a project that frontman Johnny Rzeznik told ABC News Radio he had “great fun” putting together. It’s a shame that sense of fun doesn’t permeate the final recordings as on the whole it’s an album that feels somewhat perfunctory and fails to capture the spirit of the season in perhaps the way they’d hoped. It begins with a plodding version of Tom Petty’s “It’s Christmas All Over Again” on which Rzeznick contrives to sound like a slightly concussed karaoke Bruce Springsteen wading through molasses wearing concrete boots. Their cover of “Shake Hands With Santa Claus” doesn’t fare much better, managing to extract all the wit, style, pizzazz, and sense of mischievous fun from Louis Prima’s original classic.

Elsewhere, the album is padded out with some fairly pedestrian covers. At times they sound like Michael Bublé s offcuts and rather like Gus Van Sant’s frame-by-frame remake of Psycho—it’s all slickly done but doesn’t add anything new. On “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” a cover of Alvin and the Chipmunks’ seminal epoch-straddling holiday classic, Rzeznik, obviously not wanting to go full-on Chipmunk, seems somewhat unsure of where to pitch his vocal and ends up sounding like Tom Waits after tooting helium. And initially, the reimagining of the Goo’s own 2006 classic “Better Days” has you wondering if the band have leant rather too heavily on the pitch shift slider. Thankfully, it transpires the vocal is performed by Sydney McGorman, the young daughter of the band’s long-time collaborator Jim McGorman, and the stripped back arrangement and tremulous vocal kind of works. Indeed, given the year we’ve had it would be churlish to argue with the sentiments expressed in the song and it also ticks the “cute child vocal on a Christmas album” box. At times that’s what the album feels like, a rather rushed tick box exercise trying to cover all festive bases but rarely hitting a home run.  

However, it’s the two original self-penned songs that really do hit the mark and hint at what might have been. “This Is Christmas,” featuring a heartfelt vocal from Rzeznik, doesn’t sound a million miles away from one of the band’s massive hits, “Iris,” and it certainly captures the spirit of the season in a way that the rest of the album fails to do. “You Ain’t Getting Nothing This Year” is also an enjoyable affably daft slice of Christmas fun in the "You’re a Mean One Mr Grinch” vein. Both tracks suggest the project would have been better served by dropping some of the “shocking fillers” and spending another year crafting an additional batch of original festive tunes. Because after 33 years of not releasing a Christmas album what’s another years wait? (Answer—12 months.) (www.googoodolls.com)

Author rating: 5.5/10

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Average reader rating: 3/10



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