Review Summary: Sigh.
Good Charlotte has become a punch line in the music industry, as each album they have created post The Young and the Hopeless
has been met with anything ranging from a begrudging indifference to focused hatred. There are some reasons for this, including the fact that every member of the band is filthy rich yet they whine tone-deaf lyrics like, “Should I get up and carry on, will it all just be the same?
” But let’s be honest, the main cause is their music. That noise that comes out of the instruments and Joel Madden’s mouth, for those of you who don’t know what I am referring to. To be honest, The Chronicles of Life and Death
was actually a decent album, save its absurd theme and dual release with alternate endings (one for the “life” CD and one for the “death” CD…how inventive!) Good Morning Revival
wasn’t awful either, at least in terms of pop sensibility and production. It was just remarkably inconsistent and unoriginal, borrowing two ideas for every one half-baked concept that they brought to the table. Enter 2010’s Cardiology
, the band’s fifth studio album arriving with little fanfare and no expectations whatsoever. So what do we end up getting? The answer really is just another Good Charlotte album
, although they do show some initiative to change.
Prior to the release of Cardiology
, lead vocalist Joel Madden stated in more or less words that the record would fill the void left by Blink-182. Okay, so now that you have shaken off that ridiculous notion, let’s focus on the predictions that actually came halfway true. For one, the band wanted to depart from the danceable sound present throughout Good Morning Revival
and return to their pop-punk roots. The transition was about as smooth as anything else the band has done (which is to say significantly flawed), but Cardiology
does succeed in its goal…to an extent. There is a noticeable influx of speedy pop-punk tempos on songs like “Counting the Days” and “Sex on the Radio”, both of which provide a lively edge that was rarely seen on Good Morning Revival
. Additionally, the record possesses extremely catchy moments throughout, such as the unforgettable chorus to “Let the Music Play.” Unfortunately, with every slight indication of progress on this album, there is an equally noticeable drawback. For all of their pop-punk aspirations, they include way too many electronic effects and weak pop clichés. To name just one example, “Last Night” begins with some fuzzy “bleeps and bloops” that have no impact on the song and proceed to continue intermittently throughout the background of the track’s remaining three minutes. One might say that the album has a lot of effects that are just kind of there
…or in other words, it is overproduced.
also possesses a lot of the faux-maturity and cheesy themes that made their most recent predecessors such flops. For starters, there are two tracks that are supposed to be profound, but they serve absolutely no purpose. The introduction, aptly titled “Introduction to Cardiology” (which sounds more like a university-level course than a song title) features Christmassy ooh-ooh
ing behind Madden’s raspy chants of “Cardiology…a mystery
.” I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be an insightful statement about how nobody truly understands love, but I’m also convinced that nobody is actually going to buy into that being deep
. Then you have “Interlude: The Fifth Chamber”, an instrumental track placed smack dab in the third quarter of the fifteen track album. Not only is it instrumentally irrelevant (the entire thing sounds computerized), but it doesn’t fit the mood of the album at all. Also, Good Charlotte apparently doesn’t know what an interlude is because it doesn’t do anything to lead into the follow-up track “1979.” In fact, the songs are complete opposites; “Interlude” is moody, borderline ominous and “1979” starts with peppy oh whoah oh
’s and lively acoustic strumming.
In addition to all the gimmicks are the stunningly
bad lyrics. I never said that this was a new ailment, but it is certainly something that needs to be rectified if the band ever wants to be taken somewhat seriously (and the aforementioned attempts at grandeur suggest that they definitely do). It is nearly impossible to respect music that is accompanied by counting puns:
We've got one time, time to get this right
Two timing you know its not my style
Three's company, just you and me we need to figure this one out
Four little words are all you said
Five minutes later we're in bed
The frustrating thing is that the chorus is actually pretty engaging; in fact it is damn
catchy. So Good Charlotte creates what is easily the most memorable chorus on Cardiology
, and these are the lyrics they choose to insert? I think the only thing that’s more frustrating
is that I can still get frustrated
by anything Good Charlotte fails to accomplish. I should know better by now, but I always keep coming back for more just to experience that same inevitable heartbreak (insert bad cardiology joke here). To make a long story short, there is plenty more where that lyrical excerpt came from…but I am too humane to post further instances of Good Charlotte’s idiocy.
As a whole, Cardiology
is an attempt to leave behind the band’s failed newer sound and return to their pop-punk roots. While there are some
flashes of a successful return, they still repeat too many mistakes to make the transition worthwhile. The music is still instrumentally bland, Joel Madden still can’t sing, and the genre would still be considered radio pop more than anything punk
. Even beyond that, it is important to look at the issues lying underneath their desire to change. The goal of music is to move forward; to experiment with different sounds and enjoy the freedom that comes with being an artist. Usually when a band is backtracking, that means they are trying to recapture a formula that once worked and brought them some level of success or fame. And just as often, those efforts fail miserable. Cardiology
is no different, and it just continues to expose Good Charlotte for what it is: a group of five musicians who are out of ideas and have nowhere left to go.