Release Date: Sep 16, 2014
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The dance-punk remake didn't work, nor did the back-to-basics move, so the Madden Brothers decided to pursue another option: leave Good Charlotte behind to create a California concept album. The siblings' decision to go it alone is a convenient way to draw a musical distinction between their punk band and the pure pop of Greetings from California. The Maddens always showed a fondness for a pop hook while fronting Good Charlotte, but Greetings from California is unabashedly pop, from its shimmering surface to its foundation.
Long after swapping East Coast class rage for comfy West Coast digs, Joel and Benji Madden (of pop-punk sensation Good Charlotte) make their debut as the Madden Brothers with a Seventies-flavored pop set. The bros meander somewhere between Abbey Road and Hotel California in "California Rain," describing their weather-beaten road to success. But the pristine production undermines any realness, like an amber-tinted Instagram filter.
Since poking fun at the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” in Good Charlotte, Joel and Benji Madden have ascended to the A-list, their clothing lines and celeb hookups sometimes overshadowing their band. Stepping out as the Madden Brothers, they’ve released an album that’s more like a pair of EPs. Side one’s power-pop punch has a Caribbean tinge; feather-light verses on “Brixton” explode into a majestic chorus, while the big-tent backing vocals and strident beat of “Love Pretenders” add to its resigned-sigh feel.
We all knew the Joel and Benji Madden were fond of a pop hook, but who knew behind the simple presentation and ebullient teenage smirk of Good Charlotte laid baroque pop sophistication? That’s one of the flavors the Madden Brothers sample as they make a break from their pop-punk past. It’s a distinct break whose unabashed dive into pop produces a couple surprising gems and a lot of really forgettable dross. When they stick to the ’60s Cali Pop of the uplifting “We Are Done” and dreamy “California Rain,” they produce some remarkably winning songs worthy of van-loads of bearded, guitar-toting indie popsters aping the Beach Boys and the Mommas And The Papas.