Rewind to 2002. A lively group of 20 somethings had just released their second album that would change the face of pop-punk forever. That band was Good Charlotte, and that album was ‘The Young And The Hopeless’; a record that resonated with so many angsty teens.
The release flung the band into unprecedented fame, and along with that came public scrutiny and professional pressure to deliver. The years that followed included some reinvention, a few albums that didn’t quite live up to expectations, and by the time of their hiatus in 2011, a band that looked disillusioned and tired with life in the limelight.
Fast-forward to 2018 and, equipped with a new-found boost of excitement and vitality, Good Charlotte now have in hand their seventh full-length record, ‘Generation Rx’. It’s their most anticipated offering in years, and with good reason; the band are rejuvenated, pissed off, and ready to make a statement.
Straight away with first track proper, ‘Self-Help’, it’s clear that the band have got their mojo back that clearly now more than ever was absent on their last few pre-hiatus efforts. There’s no doubting that the most commercially friendly tracks, which also happen to be the best tracks on the record, come in the form of its flagship singles – ‘Shadowboxer’ and ‘Actual Pain’.
While ‘Shadowboxer’ showcases the heavier and guitar-driven orientated side of Good Charlotte, ‘Actual Pain’ proves that they’re not afraid to expose themselves with a lyrically vulnerable and melodic ballad vaguely reminiscent of an All Time Low cut, but with the trademark Good Charlotte grittiness still at the forefront.
While both songs are stark opposites of one other, they do have two things in common; a new synth vibe thruming and absolutely blistering anthemic choruses, both of which are a constant lifeforce pulsing throughout the record from front-to-back.
While musically this offering is another evolution of the band that once brought out ‘The Anthem’, the main difference between this and any of their other records are the lyrical themes and the topics of which the songs relate to.
Beginning with the LP’s title, ‘Generation Rx’ relates to the generation that are addicted to prescription medication; the abbreviation “RX” is used widely in America for prescription medication. Other topics include religion, and more specifically the division that has been created by it, and this commentary is particularly prevalent in ‘Prayers’, equipped with such lyrics as “None of this makes sense in this reality. / God just leaves the room when I turn on my TV.”
A special mention needs to be made for the heaviest slab, ‘Leech’, featuring none other than Architects frontman Sam Carter as a guest vocalist. It truly is a real highlight, and should thwart any worries that the Good Charlotte of today is a distilled version of their former selves.
Good Charlotte were a mainstay in a plethora of angsty teens’ primitive years with their brand of pop-punk and their outsider mentality pulsing throughout their songs. Much like people, and indeed most things in life, bands change with time and, after a few years of coasting on the edge of musical obscurity, Good Charlotte seem to have rediscovered their rightful place in the music world eighteen years on from their debut release.
Perhaps if they utilise ‘Generation Rx’ as a platform to build upon, and also put out another release as good as this, they may be able to dust off the pop-punk throne and sit upon it once again.