Under the influence of the 'Mats

Superstar CarWash (Warner Bros.)
Goo Goo Dolls

By Mark Clark

Those of us still mourning the loss of the late, great Replacements can take some solace in the Goo Goo Dolls' Superstar CarWash, a rump-shaking little disc from three guys who obviously are Replacement fans, too.

This is music from the same vein of pre-Seattle thrash-pop that Paul Westerberg and friends first mined. Like the Replacements, the Goo Goo Dolls blend rage (expressed primarily through Johnny Rzeznik's guitar solos, which sound like bottled nuclear fusion) and longing (evidenced by numerous tender, even melancholy, vocal hooks). Sound familiar?

If the Replacements influence is a little too obvious at points, the songs are no less likeable for it.

Superstar CarWash, the third album from the Buffalo-based Goo Goo Dolls, surges out of the starting gate with three particularly punchy power-pop tunes: "Fallin' Down," "Lucky Star" and "Cuz You're Gone."

"I'm Already There," a groove-powered rocker with a terrific, loopy solo by Rzeznik and "We Are the Normal" provide other highlights. "We Are the Normal," the album's first single, is a moody ballad, accented with acoustic guitar and violin.

Throughout, Goo Goo Dolls (the three members share writing credit on most songs) display a refreshing, smartass lyrical flair. Check out this passage, from "On the Lie" "He said Jesus Christ is just like a cop/You never know when he'll come." OK, so Bob Dylan isn't exactly looking over his shoulder, but it's clever. And fun..

Which pretty effectively sums up Superstar CarWash. Not a work of genius, but clever. And definitely fun.