It’s hard to fathom that Good Charlotte has been around for over twenty years – it doesn’t seem that long since the Maryland natives were the one band to really thrive in the pop-punk MTV explosion of the early 2000’s with the very successful The Young and The Hopeless (Epic/Daylight). They’re released a number of hits since then, the Madden brothers took time off for a side project, got married to Hollywood darlings, and came back with 2016’s Youth Authority (MDDN) to much praise from old fans, and not so much from others.
And so to the follow-up, Generation RX (MDDN/BMG), and it’s fair to say Good Charlotte keep on rocking. Kicking it off with the title-track, a dark atmosphere is surprising yet pleasing. With a progressive tone mixed in nicely with subtle distorted vocals, ‘Generation Rx’ is a great intro for the explosive ‘Self Help’ – this band has matured in their sound and the second track represents that, staying true to their pop-Punk roots but really develops to this hard-hitting, electronic tinged alternative jam.
‘Shadowboxer’ will have you hooked with its catchy melodies and the synth-based vocals the twin Maddens interchange. The first single, ‘Actual Pain’ is an anthem for the current opioid crisis with sincere harmonies a fitting accompaniment to the sensitive lyrics. The drums by Dean Butterworth really emphasize what the band wants you to feel in this song. The band got inspiration for the song after losing rapper and friend Lil’ Peep to a drug overdose.
Joel is known to be the lead vocalist for the band but in the fragile yet angsty ‘Prayers’ Benji takes control of the song. The ballad ‘Cold Song’ finds itself with acoustic guitars and a piano, the guitar solo by Billy Martin adds texture to the elegance already created. And as you think the album is only going to get softer, they turn it up with ‘Leech’ featuring the Architects’ Sam Carter, a song that carries more of a harder groove.
‘Better Demons’ highlights the darker side of the youth culture nowadays while the ode to the Golden State, ‘California (The Way I Say I Love You)’ melts with you with its acoustic guitars and a subtle reminder that you can always call California your home.
At about thirty minutes, Generation RX is a short album but one that is an easy listen that feels like Good Charlotte have broken free as musicians and have created an honest, pure album, further honing their mastery at creating heartfelt anthems just like they always have.