Good Charlotte Returns After Six-Year Hiatus With ‘Youth Authority’
Ultimately, Good Charlotte delivers an enjoyable, well-rounded comeback effort with Youth Authority, its first album in nearly six years.
2016 is the year of punk-pop resurgence apparently. For the late twenty-somethings and early thirty-somethings, the music of our time has come back, if only temporarily. First, Simple Plan had us Taking One For the Team. Next, Blink-182 returned with California, even if the absence of Tom DeLonge as a total bummer. Now the Madden brothers and Good Charlotte reunite for Youth Authority.
Youth Authority marks Good Charlotte’s first new album since the November 2010 release of Cardiology. Cardiology limped onto the Billboard 200. Keeping it 100 like we do here at The Musical Hype, Good Charlotte hasn’t been relevant for years. No shade, but the truth. The last heavy-hitting album – The Chronicles of Life and Death, 2004. Positively, Youth Authority is, much like Blink-182’s California, respectable.
Electrifying Opening Quintet
“Life Changes” kicks off Youth Authority ferociously. Quick and Guitar-heavy, “Life Changes” is an adrenaline rush. The energy is highly appreciated, but certainly a must. Fans who stuck around after a six-year break deserve high intensity, at least on the opener. In regards to its content, “Life Changes” is natural reflective – believe it or not, Benji and Joel aren’t kids anymore!
Follow up “Makeshift Love” is no slouch; there’s little drop off following “them changes.” Arguably more than “Life Changes,” “Makeshift Love” reminisces back to Good Charlotte’s prime. This is more flexible in regards to the accessibility of a younger audience. Will Good Charlotte have droves of teens on board? Probably not, but “Makeshift Love” might appeal to a couple who might’ve heard there was once a band named Good Charlotte.
The crème de la crème comes with “40 oz. Dream,” another reflective joint. This time, Good Charlotte dive deep into pop culture, referencing MTV, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre. Again, the youth won’t relate, but Good Charlotte’s core fan-base should. The chorus is infectious, clearly tailor-made for today’s market. Superbly produced and thoughtfully penned, “40 oz. Dream” is like a dream come true.
Not missing a beat, “Life Can’t Get Much Better” four tracks in (catch that swag?). Good Charlotte sound locked-and-loaded. The scenario is familiar – love and its pains. While the relationship, “let’s stay together” sensibility is crystal clear, one has to wonder if there’s reference to the band’s resolve to comeback. Could “Don’t give up on us” transcend a potential break-up?
Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens) joins the party on the fifth consistent song, “Keep Swingin’.” Quinn serves as a co-writer throughout the album. As always, Quinn’s vocals are distinct, with his incredible whiny, upper register. The contrast of Joel Madden and Quinn’s vocals amplifies the soundness of “Keep Swingin’.” That’s just what Youth Authority does.
Cool Down After Five
Things cool a bit after an electrifying opening quintet, but it is to be expected. “Reason to Stay” prudently slackens the pace slightly after the up-tempo “Keep Swingin’” The energy remains, even if the song isn’t quite the caliber of the best. Guest Simon Neil delivers a solid vocal on the first verse. As is the case with the majority of Youth Authority, the chorus is on autopilot.
“Stray Dogs” is cleverly written, to say the least. “Don’t leave me stray, I’m just a dog without you,” Madden sings memorably on the refrain. The concept is simple – she makes him better. Otherwise, he’s an animal!
On “The Outfield,” Good Charlotte references baseball! The outfield clearly isn’t glamorous in their eyes – “You’re not the only one they used / I was in the outfield too.” While the band has aged, their youthful swagger still shows, particularly on lyric, “I was thinking about school, it was so f*cking painful / my parents were both such a wreck.” Sigh, takes us back to emo days!
Give Good Charlotte credit for “Cars Full of People” – it initially has a folk-rock sound. This doesn’t last, but it definitely distinguishes it from the majority of the album. “War” definitely makes you want to throw fists in the air. It’s second-tier at best, but minimally has the desired effect – ANGST! “Moving On” is standard closer, though some editions have bonus tracks (“Rise,” “We’ll Let It All Out,” and/or “Life Is Hard”).
Ultimately, Good Charlotte delivers an enjoyable, well-rounded comeback effort with Youth Authority. Youth Authority is imperfect, but great moments outweigh the less notable ones. It’s not the best album of the year, but for those who grew up with Good Charlotte, this album takes you back down memory lane.
Gems: “Life Changes,” “Makeshift Love,” “40 oz. Dream,” “Life Can’t Get Much Better,” “Keep Swingin’” & “Stray Dogs”