The summer of the return of pop-punk bands we used to idolise rolls on with former Maryland upstarts turned established Cali elite Good Charlotte, and the release of ‘Youth Authority’ their first album in six years.
It’s a front loaded album with all four released tracks up first. A move to hook casual listeners it makes for a rollicking start, but causes pacing issues down the track listing. ‘Life Changes’ and ‘Makeshift Love’ are slices of classic GC. Slabs of power chords slide slickly in and out of the mix underpinned by chugging bass. Its happily familiar harking back to the band in their ‘Young and The Hopeless’ pomp.
’40oz Dream’ sees Joel Madden playfully mock modern music trends for throwbacks to past sounds. It’s the catchiest track he’s penned in over a decade and a standout moment. But too often they revert to the formula they’ve stuck to on recent albums. Floaty faux pop verses, sprinklings of strings and keys and breaking out to bass and drum driven choruses.
‘Youth Authority’ packs star power with big name guest vocals. First up Sleeping With Sirens’ Kellin Quinn blends sugary vocals into the overproduced pop-punk setting on ‘Keep Swinging’. While ‘Reason To Stay’ opens up with a surprise appearance by Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil. His contribution is disappointingly brief but his harmonies soar over the choruses to add scope to a sweeping down-beat track.
Late on the wonderfully self-referential ‘The Outfield’ manages to combine the effects and scaled out pop with the vigour and punch of the Madden’s writing at its best. It treads the well-worn GC path of their difficult youth, but resonates with an honesty and sense of overcoming.
Finally ‘Rise’ brings things to a close in rousing flag waving fashion.
‘Youth Authority’ brings back glimpses of the class and songwriting ability that launched Good Charlotte into teen idols worldwide. Yet brings the maturity and rounded edges to musical style that being in their late 30s should bring. It’s not complicated, or close to their best album, but it’s varied, solid and flawlessly produced and what the band need to keep their mainstream appeal rolling. Plus they’ll lure the younger fans from the All Time Low crowd.
‘Youth Authority’ by Good Charlotte is out now on MDDN.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)