For a while there, it looked as if Good Charlotte were gone. It wasn’t purely because of a hiatus that stretched out for half a decade, but rather the circumstances that instigated it in the first place. Bowing out with 2010’s mediocre ‘Cardiology’, it felt for all the world as though a band who once appeared the heirs to the pop-punk throne had lost their love for music.
Be it the unashamed pop mentality of seminal breakthrough ‘The Young And The Hopeless’ or the mature, collected approach to fourth album ‘Good Morning Revival’, Good Charlotte had always been one thing – committed to their own cause. Without that, by their own admission, they had little to offer.
It comes as some surprise, then, that not only does 2016 see them back, but that they’re very much in business. Helmed by uber-producer John Feldmann (because who else?), ‘Youth Authority’ is a sun-drenched delight that sees the quintet firmly reconnecting with their roots. Starting with the exuberant bounce of ‘Life Changes’ before pushing on through the smash hit tones of ‘Makeshift Love’, it’s a record that instantly displays a newfound lust for life.
With a vibe that harks back to the days of ’90s teen movies but with none of the knuckle-headed smut, the likes of ‘40 oz. Dream’ and the massive, arm-waving chorus of ‘Keep Swingin’’ (complete with a cameo from Kellin Quinn) are vintage Good Charlotte, providing a fitting soundtrack as the summer months come into view.
It’s not all sugar and sweetness, though, with more than enough moments that show this is a band ageing gracefully while still knowing how to enjoy themselves. Bolstered by the vocals of Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil (really), ‘Reason To Stay’ is a grand and sweeping treat, sitting comfortably next to the acoustic-tinged ‘Stray Dogs’, a track that shows the band at their radio-friendly best without veering towards cheddar-filled pastures.
But be it songs slow or fast, upbeat or reflective, one of the most endearing qualities to be found on ‘Youth Authority’ is its lyrical honesty. Frank and open, many of the songs here show a band not pining for a return to their twenties but often appreciating missed opportunities, while simultaneously confessing the kind of regrets that any rational human being should have. It’s relatable, it’s straight-talking, and it’s very, very real – a trait we could frankly do with more of.
It would’ve been all too easy to treat their return as little more than a novelty and a cash cow, but in ‘Youth Authority’ Good Charlotte have actually unlocked something far greater: themselves. They haven’t recreated their youth, nor have they tried to, but they’ve certainly rediscovered it in a genuine, utterly infectious manner. And in doing so, they’ve produced one of their finest moments.