Release Date: Jul 15, 2016
Record label: MDDN
The Madden brothers reunite for by-numbers emo cracker. Formulaic? Emo? Okay, so Good Charlotte emerged in the early noughties as spike-headed skate-punk freaks making teen-friendly rock about hating their dads, reached a peak with some songs you vaguely remember from 2004, got Hollywood wives (singer Joel Madden married Nicole Richie; his guitarist brother Benji bagged Cameron Diaz), went on ‘hiatus’ in 2011 after their fans grew up, and have returned five years later with a back-to-basics album about loving being dads. So far so Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy; Good Charlotte remain the Dick & Doms to their forebears’ Ant & Decs.
The return of pop-punk legends. For a while there, it looked as if Good Charlotte were gone. It wasn’t purely because of a hiatus that stretched out for half a decade, but rather the circumstances that instigated it in the first place. Bowing out with 2010’s mediocre ‘Cardiology’, it felt for all the world as though a band who once appeared the heirs to the pop-punk throne had lost their love for music.Be it the unashamed pop mentality of seminal breakthrough ‘The Young And The Hopeless’ or the mature, collected approach to fourth album ‘Good Morning Revival’, Good Charlotte had always been one thing – committed to their own cause.
Reuniting after a six-year hiatus -- during which time, leading sibling Joel and Benji Madden pursued a soft rock busman's holiday as the Madden Brothers -- Good Charlotte find themselves in a curious position with 2016's Youth Authority. Despite the adolescent yawp of the title, it's no guarantee that Good Charlotte are anything like authorities on youth: the Maddens are staring down middle age, realizing that their connection to teens may be slipping away. Such self-consciousness leads them toward mawkishness and nostalgia -- the latter surfaces on "40 Oz.
Pop-punk has always been considered a genre where progress has a ceiling. In the mid-’00s, the golden age of the largely teenage phenomenon, bands could hope to score sync deals on television shows or in video games; their presence would become branded throughout pop culture. When the mall-punks of the era outgrew their interest in bratty hooks and crunching guitars, so did everyone else, with few exceptions: All Time Low managed to maintain a respectably sized audience, growing ever-so-slightly with each passing year.
Pop punk acts like Good Charlotte frequently operate on the premise that the music they make—and by extension the fans they cultivate—are in some way different. They're wise to the system; unconventional; transgressive. They wear black. They play guitars. But hiding on the flip side of that ….
How well is pop punk, as a genre, holding up, as its patron saints careen headlong into middle age? This spring, six years after the release of their fifth studio album, Cardiology, and 16 years since their self-titled debut introduced “Waldorf Worldwide” to the masses, Good Charlotte rode the nostalgia wave all the way to sold-out shows from Los Angeles’ Troubadour to Washington, D. C. ’s 9:30 Club.
Good Charlotte’s past colors their present in a big way on Youth Authority. The sixth album from the Maryland-turned-Californian pop punks (their first since going on hiatus in 2011) is stuffed with moments that recall nearly every era of the band’s existence. The opening track “Life Changes”—complete with an arena-rock chorus that channels Bon Jovi ca.
Like many pop-punk bands of the late ’90s and early ’00s, Good Charlotte lost the plot once it strayed too far from its sweet spot. In fact, the band’s forays into then-trendy dance-pop (2007’s Good Morning Revival) and grown-up rock (2010’s Cardiology) derailed its career momentum. Yet after Good Charlotte went on hiatus in 2011, a funny thing happened: The newer crop of pop-punk superstars—including All Time Low and 5 Seconds Of Summer—started praising the band and cited it as a massive influence.