Review Summary: Good Morning Revival is inconsistent; downright sinful at times, it contains sparks of brilliance and some very creditable pop moments.
There’s not a lot of reasons an album’s lyrics wouldn’t be printed in its liner notes: there may not be any; it could be too expensive to print; maybe the lyrics are so insightful, so inventive, that mere paper could not contain their awesome power; or, um, maybe they’re not.
If by now you haven’t figured out which camp Good Charlotte’s Good Morning Revival
figures in, please leave. Now.
Lyrics will never be that
important in pop music but it still takes some amount of mocksy to break a two-year radio silence with the phrase, ”as I walk through the valley of the shadow of LA,”
the opening line of lead single ‘The River,’ or if not balls then a rush of blood somewhere other than the head. Slightly better planned is the appearance of Avenged Sevenfold pair M. Shadows and Synster Gates who add bridge/background vocals and a guitar solo respectively to an otherwise decently-constructed track that carries more than a hint of Alkaline Trio. The constant Biblical references demonstrate some ingenuity, however corny, but it’s the track’s clever arrangement which scores the most points; the bouncy, synth-anchored chorus probably didn’t do much for their chart ambitions but it affords the track a deal of longevity.
The production quality is a crowning grace throughout the album in the face of some very dodgy writing and bad musical choices. Good Charlotte have long been known for their loose ethics in terms of their songwriting- 2002’s ‘Girls & Boys’ skanked the guitar riff, melody and arrangement from the Marvelous 3’s ‘Freak of the Week’ without so much as a wink in the victim’s direction- and Good Morning Revival
contains no sign of penance. ‘Victims of Love’ borrows extensively from t.A.T.u.’s electronic pop hit ‘All The Things She Said,’ closing ballad ‘March On’ only slightly alters the guitar riff and arrangement from The Killers’ ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ (did they just do a keyword search?), while Coldplay get it double with the ‘Don’t Panic’-aping ‘Beautiful World’ and ‘Where Would We Be Now,’ which borrows the piano part from ‘Clocks.’
There are less criminal similarities too; Joel Madden’s vocals increasingly resemble the high-pitched wandering of Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, though he’s nowhere near as comfortable in his higher reaches, while ‘The River’ and ‘Dance Floor Anthem’ were clearly conceived with The Killers’ Hot Fuss
in mind. With that in mind, it becomes pretty clear that, even if they don’t know anything else, the Madden brothers and producer Don Gilmore know good pop music, and the clever, slick production is the evidence of the fact. Gilmore’s work on Linkin Park’s two albums to date comes in handy with the opening track proper ‘Misery’ which, through electronic touches and heavy-layered metallic guitars, echoes that group’s second album Meteora
‘Keep Your Hands Off My Girl,’ despite the various product placements and the horrific line “I’ve got brass knuckles hanging from my neck to my chain,”
harbours an interesting shifting beat and a distorted vocal that recalls Underworld’s classic single ‘Born Slippy,’ while the chorus comes straight from the top drawer. ‘Victims of Love’ is the album highlight despite the untimely exhumation of the robotic vocal effect Cher used on ‘Believe,’ but beyond that there’s not much cause to consider Good Morning Revival
a keeper, and it’s not a particularly great track to begin with. The lyrical deficit rears its head again on ‘All Black’ which, stunningly, goes ahead and lists just about every black thing that could possibly be jammed into a four minute track barring the rapper he so clearly aspires to be. ”Like the seats in my Cadillac, all black”
Yeah, ok, and your bank balance, buddy. Slightly more startling is Joel’s attack on “plastic” and “shallow” people during ‘Misery,’ words spoken slightly out of turn for the future Mr. Nicole Richie.
Good Morning Revival
is inconsistent; downright sinful at times, it also contains sparks of brilliance and some very creditable pop moments. That they chose to lead with ‘The River’ is understandable- they wanted to re-establish some interest within the rock scene- however it’s not a great pop song to begin with and probably signifies the end of the band’s platinum-selling days. The sometimes flagrant theft of musical themes from other artists is irritating at best, especially since they’ve stopped ripping little-known songs and gone straight for recent hits. Though they’re generally executed quite well they offer little value above the “originals,” and the top tracks are packed to the front of the deck, making the second half of the album difficult to endure.
I’m a firm believer in silver linings however, and Good Morning Revival
shimmers with the best of them: Joel’s ex Hilary Duff released a preview of her new album Dignity
( is this title too heavy-handed?) last week, and it sounds a hell of a lot better than this!