There is this fantastic track by NOFX called Mattersville. That they are in my top five punk bands of all time should have no bearing on this. Now you should know, when this song was first released in the early oughts, it made me nostalgic for my youth while I was still in my formative under grad years.
In the song NOFX sings about getting old and living in a gated community for punk rockers which are over the hill. Members of US Bombs and Die Hunns, Soda, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and AFI are referenced.
But that is one of the qualities of punk rock, it can be both subversive and a hype machine of it’s own culture. I wonder what 4th generation punk bands will be singing about when they start to reach that age?
Good Charlotte – Youth Authority
released July 15, 2016
Good Charlotte is a five-piece American pop punk band that has been active for 19 years. They formed in 1995 but took a break between 2013-2015. Led by twins Joel and Benji Madden, who both supply vocals, Benji taking lead guitar, Paul Thomas on bass, Bill Martin on rhythm guitar and keyboards, and Dean Butterworth on drums (since 2005), the band has now released six studio length albums and two compilation albums.
I have always been a die-hard fan of their early work – their self-titled album, The Young and the Hopeless, and The Chronicles of Life and Death. I kind of intentionally missed the last two efforts because like many people, I was growing tired of what I was hearing from these guys in the late oughts.
Fortunately for me and everyone who likes pop punk, after taking a break, Youth Authority appears to be a return to form for Good Charlotte, who have never really been a cool kid band. Or to put it another way, they’ve finally committed to not be concerned about making music that can sit atop of a top 40 chart. Unlike say Marianas Trench.
But I think that’s a good thing.
Where they shine best is in being silly, sweet, and suburbia subversive. After all, the Madden brothers had a dad step out on them when they were young and their mother dealt with all kinds of health problems.
It’s a difficult thing for pop punk bands to overcome middle age and still sound like something a teenager could listen to, but like The Descendants, NOFX, Blink 182, Green Day, and The Offspring have all done before them, Good Charlotte is easing rather comfortably into that beer belly and easy chair motif. Now worthy of cult status and a loyal fan base.
I’m not the first reviewer to say this, but the challenging parts of the album often come in the slower lyrics, but because of the emotional pull these guys have, you can easily forgive it.
Some of my favourite tracks include Life Changes, 40. oz Dream, Reason to Stay, and War. But the real gem on this record comes in the form of The Outfield. It’s an autobiographical account of where they’ve been both before success and after their blockbuster album The Young and The Hopeless. It even features a lyric which quite literally mentions that fact.
And like NOFX and other punk bands like Bowling For Soup have done before, Good Charlotte is happy to reference the past in a constructive way.
Good Charlotte don’t need to prove themselves to us anymore, so maybe they really do have youth authority.
I don’t expect Good Charlotte to become a stereotype of aging cynicism any time soon, but dammit if it isn’t interesting to watch go through these life changes. Song lyric pun intended. If you like crappy punk rock, don’t listen to Youth Authority. But that’s just a theory.