Produced by Lou Giordano with his trademark full-bodied, immediately accessible, but never washed-out sound, A Boy Named Goo finally got the band across to a wide audience, and deservedly so. Right from the start, the Goo Goo Dolls sound perfectly on the right track after Superstar Car Wash's OK but ultimately go-nowhere feeling -- "Long Way Down" is another stone-cold classic of wounded romanticism wedded to catchy Cheap Trick-tinged punk-pop, Rzeznik's singing the not-so-secret weapon. Hearing him on the descending chorus, matching the just sad enough guitar crunch, makes one realize that there's always hope for full-bodied rock & roll. The eternal Replacements tag now makes less sense than ever -- the Goos have their own enjoyable sound, Rzeznik's a more individual singer than ever, and all three rock out accordingly. Takac similarly has his own sonic improvements, his formerly rasped high register now just a little more controlled but no less affecting, as winners like "Burnin' Up" and "Somethin' Bad" easily demonstrate. Rzeznik-sung highlights are equally everywhere -- the commercial but never stupid "Naked," with a great chorus and immediately radio-friendly music, the equally sharp "Only One," and the mighty fine "Ain't That Unusual." There's no question what the highlight is, though -- however untypical of the rest of the album's mid-range feedback fun, "Name," with its sweet but sad acoustic arrangement, made perfect sense as the Goos' long-delayed radio breakthrough. Rzeznik's empathetic vocal, delivering one of his best lyrics on favored subjects of friendship, loss, and fame, matches unfolky strumming and quiet energy, creating a song that feels like both a farewell to the American Dream and to a long-lost partner. All this without sounding like a Bruce Springsteen sermon -- a rare thing indeed.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett