Following a five year hiatus, during which the Madden brothers were sticking it to the man by coaching rejected Neighbours extras on The Voice Australia, Good Charlotte have returned with album number six, ‘Youth Authority’. Riding the reboot/remake/rehash wave that is dominating quite literally every media format, these past-blasters are here to you show you they’re very much alive and kicking with a fresh collection of ultimately underwhelming, pop-punk, filler tracks.
Drenched in nostalgia (but mercifully not in a “returning to our roots” kind of way), ‘Youth Authority’ is jam-packed full of Good Charlotte‘s playing-it-safe pop-punk and, as a consequence, is a pretty bland effort. Despite being upbeat and well-polished, most tracks just blend into one tedious formula after a couple of listens.
There’s ’40 oz. Dream’, which is basically a rip-off of Bowling For Soup‘s ‘1985’ (which in turn was originally by SR-71), but instead of a loving tribute to the glory days of the 80s, this is a winge fest about how “It’s not 2003”, and “Rappers were singing and rockers DJ’ing” with “Mom’s taking selfies.” You can see what they’re trying to do, but the terrible rhymes and flaccid chorus coupled with how god damn irritating this song is just boggles the mind how it could even be considered for a single. In a wonderful moment of irony, there’s even the line “I can’t believe it man, it’s all so boring.” Yep. You said it, buddy.
However, in amongst the mediocrity are some genuinely brilliant tracks. ‘War’, for example, is an unrelenting angst fuelled emo anthem with thundering drums and a scream-your-lungs-out chorus that would shatter stadium walls, making this quite possibly one of the best songs the band has ever written. ‘Reason To Stay’ is similar, in that it will trigger a wonderful, visceral reaction within you (even after the out of place and kind of awkward intro from Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro). These two songs are both fantastic and infuriating at the same time; it shows that Good Charlotte have matured and possess a plethora of musical prowess, but have just chosen not to go down that route. Maybe that’s the fault of pop-punk producer and legend John Feldmann, but he can’t be held accountable for everything.
Fans of Good Charlotte will be overjoyed with ‘Youth Authority’, mainly because it’s more of the same three chord pleasantries spoon fed to you over a dozen okay-ish tracks. However, even if you’re not a fan, you should still check out ‘War’ and ‘Reason To Stay’ as shining examples of what this band are capable of. Oh, and give ‘Cars Full Of People’ a listen too, even if Joel neglects to mention if the people in said cars are girls, and whether or not they like money.
Written by Andy Roberts (@Sassensquatch)