Album Review: Good Charlotte – Generation Rx

Our favorite noughties pop-punks are back with a new record. 

It’s been nearly two decades since Good Charlotte first blasted on our stereos with their unforgettable tracks. Now, in 2018, the band are releasing their seventh studio album with Generation Rx. 

Across nine songs, the band remind us why we fell in love with them in the first place. They encode a hopeful message inside a capsule of DIY punk energy, expansive rock unpredictability, and widescreen orchestral scope.

“When we first started, there was this unconscious feeling,” explains Joel. “It’s like we were running our own race. I think we’ve been trying to find the doorway back for a long time. We’ve both learned so much through family and life that we managed to finally find the doorway. It took us fifteen years to get back there, but we did now.”

“We’re happier than ever,” adds Benji. “We’re not operating on anyone’s else’s schedule, time clock, or terms. We’re saying exactly what we want to say and following the feeling that brought us here in the first place.”

The title track kicks off the record with a rather electronic feel. “The title came from the fact our generation was the first one to have so many options to kill pain. (Lil) Peep’s death hit us really hard. At the same time, we’ve seen the whole opioid crisis get worse firsthand. We wondered if we were really doing our part as the older brothers in the scene. The way to do our part was to get back out on the battlefield and share any wisdom we could to improve lives. We’re all human beings. We all experience pain, but we wanted to show it’s possible to come out on the other side okay.” the band explain.

At just a little over two minute Generation Rx really feels like an intro into what’s next, setting a tone. That tone is one of a mix of doom, despair and hope all the same. Followed by Self Help, which packs a punch, literally. Its chorus will melt your face off, but overall it really shows how the band have evolved their sound.

Shadowboxer takes up the topic of mental health, how seeing yourself in a negative light can burn you out while you’re trying to fight the demonds, aka shadowboxing. On the first single Actual Pain, a wave of cinematic strings underlines the wall of guitars and drums as an identifiable and infectious hook takes hold, speaking to an overarching theme.

“A big part of pain is mental health,” Joel explains. “For as much progress as we’ve made, people are still embarrassed to talk about things like bipolar disorder or PTSD. Lyrically, it’s about a relationship where two people have this cloud over them.”

“It’s relatable,” elaborates Benji. “We all feel actual pain. We cover it up. We medicate it. We avoid it. We’re talking about it though.”

In Prayers, Good Charlotte pick up a sensitive topic and turn it into a piece of art. “With all of these school shootings, we’re missing the point,” Joel says about the track. “There are young people who aren’t safe. They’re the kids. We’re the adults. It’s our job to keep them safe. These different sides are fighting each other. Prayers aren’t being heard. It’s a commentary.”

For Leech Good Charlotte brought none other than Sam Carter on board. The frontman of UK metal outfit Architects, gives the song an extra punch with his cameo. Just last month Architects won Best UK Band at the Heavy Music Awards and were presented their trophy by Benji Madden. Leech was written by Benji and takes on the topic of being abandoned as a child. It’s got an extremely heavy energy to it, in the good sense, that really hammers home the message.

Finishing off the record is California (The Way I Say I Love You). It’s a track dedicated to their kids, to let them know they can always come home, to California. “I’ll be waiting here to show you how to come back home. Some things never change like the way I say “I love you”…” they sing. It’s such a beautiful message to close the album with because it doesn’t just apply to their kids, it also gives a feeling of community to their fans.

“By making this album, we get a feeling we’ve been looking for since we were little kids. Good Charlotte was a way for us to feel understood. We definitely felt that way writing these songs. My biggest hope is that when someone listens to Generation Rx, they feel understood too.” The band conclude – and we can conclude that this is exactly what they have accomplished on this album.

Generation Rx is a record that shows Good Charlotte have evolved without alienating their long-time fans. It’ll be sure to gain them a whole bunch of new followers and remind their dedicated fanbase why they fell in love with Good Charlotte all those years ago. 

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