Since the first teases of #WelcomeBackGC, there has been a distinct excitement for the return of arguably the greatest pop punk band of all time. Good Charlotte broke up for a hiatus in 2010 following the disappointment of studio album Cardiology where even hardcore fans of the band needed them to reconsider. It almost seemed they had totally lost the excitement and energy from the days of The Young & The Hopeless. Youth Authority however is a different story.
Vocally, Joel Madden keeps pretty much the same style as ever. The musical nature of the band may have changed, but the vocals are solidly in pop punk realms. He has a blend of punky attitude and diction, yet a tuneful pop melody behind to complete the blend as ever before.
Another large factor of the vocals in this record is the guests. The band have clearly made some good connections in the last six years as previously the band have only released one track with guest performers in the case of 2007’s The River, featuring M Shadows and Syn Gates of Avenged Sevenfold. The addition in the new record gives extra depth. Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens fame features on Keep Swingin’ which adds that high range and whiny tone to contrast Joel’s more gritty tone and bring out the vibrance in the track. The other is Reason To Stay featuring Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil. The start of track actually sounds like it could have come straight off Biffy’s new album Ellipsis, holding the delicate qualities and working perfectly with Neil’s voice. Frankly, the introduction of Joel and the band is somewhat disappointing; the track would have benefitted from staying as a small alt-rock piece rather than taking the intro and magnifying it to Good Charlotte-size pop punk.
In terms of lyrics, many of the tracks focus on the history of the brothers or the band itself. 40oz. Dream and Life Can’t Get Much Better are clearly of this group, but others including Keep Swingin’ (feat. Kellin Quinn) and Cars Full Of People have a very clear image of how things used to be once upon a time in the twins’ childhood. The whole record lyrically is packed with cliches of new beginnings and pangs of nostalgia but that only adds to the fun and completeness of the record’s writing extent.
The guitars are the highlight of the whole record, with the delicacies of Life Can’t Get Much Better and the intro of Reason To Stay (feat. Simon Neil), yet the massive pop punk drops in Life Changes and Makeshift Love give a huge contrast. The tones they have developed for the record sound like they have developed from the roots of The Young & The Hopeless crossed with Good Morning Revival which gives it real depth, especially in the powerful parts. The octave power chords throughout the distorted sections give a nice dual quality to the sound, and the mixing complements this well.
Overall, a superb return for the pop punk forefathers, and one that will be remembered for a long time as some of the better songs they’ve written to date.